UMC General Conference: April 22 - May 3, 2024

Daily Notes from General Conference by Albert Hidalgo

May 3 (11th and LAST day):  Hello Beloved BUMC!  WOW!  What a GC it has been!  I really had no expectation that ALL THREE Rs WOULD PASS - but we did it with huge majorities.  We now officially have a new United Methodist Church.  One that is welcoming of ALL and focused on LOVE and seeing God in ALL.  Just like Broadway UMC!  Reminder - the 3Rs are Regionalization, Revise the Social Principles and Remove Harmful Language. Each of these had several pieces of legislation.  
(Note: Some of what follows is taken from UMC Communications).  
On the final day delegates set the budget that will fund the ministries of the denomination for the next four years, a budget which is significantly lower than the one it set in 2016.  It could be argued that this was the most consequential General Conference since the 1968 assembly that created The United Methodist Church.  The church going forward from here is different than it was just a few weeks ago.  During the 11 days, delegates considered more than 1,000 petitions.  They approved a new retirement plan for clergy, granted deacons authority to offer Holy Communion and conduct Baptisms in their appointed ministry setting, celebrated church milestones, agreed to enter into a  full communion relationship with the Episcopal Church, and approved the departure of four Eurasian Annual Conferences that plan to become the new autonomous "Christian Methodist Church."  Delegates also approved a plan for distributing 32 bishops across the U.S. — which represents a reduction from the 39 active bishops currently serving.  Approved an apology to victims and survivors of sexual misconduct by clergy and lay leaders in the UMC that was submitted by the United Methodist Commission on the Status and Role of Women.  Not only was the apology statement read in its entirety during General Conference, but all United Methodist bishops around the world are to read the apology at their own upcoming annual conferences.  The denomination ended its 52-year-old anti-gay stance by a vote of 523 to 161 after about an hour and a half of debate.   In the same vote, we affirmed “marriage as a sacred, lifelong covenant that brings two people of faith (adult man and adult woman of consenting age OR two adult persons of consenting age) into a union of one another and into deeper relationship with God and the religious community.”  The entire slate of revised Social Principles submitted by the United Methodist Board of Church and Society (and started in 2012) is also now the path forward!  Council of Bishops President,Tracy S. Malone said, "The work done at General Conference is not as important as what the church will do next."  She asked delegates to imagine a United Methodist Church where hope is reborn, and where people are reconciled to one another and committed to build God’s beloved community.  “Let us imagine a church where no one, nobody, is marginalized.  Let us imagine a church that transcends geography and cultures and languages and borders and barriers and differences.  I’m talking about a beautiful mosaic that reflects the kin-dom, the kingdom of God.”  Drawing the assembly to a close with a centering moment after presiding over the final plenary session, Bishop Malone told everyone gathered: “As you go forward from this General Conference, tell the world about Jesus.  As you go, tell them about his love.  As you go, be love...Let’s walk together, beloved, and let us never grow weary of doing the work of the kin-dom.”  Amen!  
Our work to embrace all continues - now unhindered by human rules!  May we live up to that and draw “more to Christ!”

May 2 (10th day):  Hello Beloved BUMC!  Another historic day at General Conference as we  passed the last remaining petition to clear the adoption of the revised Global Social Principles.  With that, the Church also decidedly struck down the 52 year-old language that said homosexuality “is incompatible with Christian teaching.”  Although feeling celebratory and can’t wait to share the joy with you at BUMC on Sunday, we cannot gloat - there is more work to do so that ALL are welcomed!  We opened worship with Bishop Ruby-Nell Estrella of the Manila Episcopal Area.  Then went to work on the Revised Social Principles.  There was a lot of debate around the definition of marriage.  We had a few notable speeches. Seeking a compromise, a delegate from East Zimbabwe proposed an amendment to the Revised Social Principles that would honor the worldwide scope.  The following was added as an amendment:
Within the church, we affirm marriage as a sacred, lifelong covenant that brings two people of faith, an adult man and woman of consenting age, OR two adult persons of consenting age, into union with one another and into deeper relationship with God and the religious community.
After more than 50 years, the incompatibility clause has finally been deleted from the Social Principles and the definition of marriage has been expanded to include two people of consenting age.  With this, the UMC officially recognizes same-sex marriages!
Another historical decision was Petition 20897, Granting Sacramental rights for Deacons in their Ministry Setting, passed, 65.12% to 34.88%.  The General Conference spent the final session of today in debate about petitions with potential impact on the Constitution, including Episcopal tenure and voting rights in Annual Conferences.  We have about 24 petitions to finalize Friday as well as review the budget - A lot to still do!

May 1 (9th Day):  Hello Beloved BUMC!  Wow!  Just wow!  I am not a “cryer” but boy did I bawl today - tears of joy and relief!  Bishop Harvey of Texas said it well, “This is a historic conference.  I believe God is doing a new thing.”  There was such a spirit of joy, exhaustion, and disbelief.   So what happened??  There were so many petitions in the consent calendar that will transform the UMC FOR THE GOOD.  When this passed 692 to 51 there was a hush.  Ordination restrictions and most of the Traditional Plan came out of the Book of Discipline today.

Here is a summary:
• Removal of the Harmful Language—Almost Complete
• Adopt Revised Social Principles—Still in process.
• Marriage Ban—Partially removed—Still in process.
• Traditional Plan—Completely Removed!
• Ordination Restrictions—Completely Removed!
• Funding Ban—Completely Removed!
• Regionalization—Complete!
• Constitutional Amendments—Passed with 78% (2/3 Required).  5 of the remaining 6 —Passed on Consent Calendar
• Final Petition—Passed 593 to 139 (81%).
• End Disaffiliations—Complete! (Restarting Disaffiliations was the Global Methodist Church’s highest priority and it failed with a whimper.)
We also completed elections for the University Senate and the Judicial Council.  Rev. Dr. Aleze Fulbright was selected as the new Secretary of the General Conference.  She is our current Conference Superintendent.  At one of the breaks there was a celebration of joy, regret and relief - see some of the videos!  And guess what?  I saw Liv (our former Duke Intern from 2023)!  What a joy.  For the most part I tried to be stoic and just present in the amazement of the moment!  However I was so overcome by the moment and the relief for so many, I ended up sobbing in the amazing embrace of a dear friend, Meg Lassiat.  I saw so many bishops joining in song and celebration.  Just wow!  So for May 2, we will focus on a lot of the petitions requiring discussion such as the Social Principles (like the definition of marriage).  Keep praying for us all! 
April 30 (8th day):  Hello Beloved BUMC!  We did some historic things as well as discussed some topics hearing many points of view (think - slow as molasses!).  That said, sometime the work happening here is just remarkable- we are in the road to a more loving inclusive church that makes me feel proud to be a Christian and UMC!  We opened with worship. Rev. Dr. Jerry Pillay, ninth General Secretary of the World Council of Churches gave this morning’s sermon.  “We dare not be silent.  Christians need to stand up for justice, and we need to stand together in unity is our strength. We are better and stronger together. Together we can shout."  During the lunch recess, UMC seminarians and students led a peaceful protest in solidarity with Palestine and people of Gaza.  As we went into afternoon plenary, Bishop David Bard (who I love and follow on FB) reminded us of the audaciousness of the work being done.  “We are working to build God's beloved community … breaks down dividing walls of nation, race, class, gender, sexual orientation, language and opinion. …. This is the work of the Spirit.”  Legislatively we continued to make huge leaps forward today as the General Conference voted to adopt several pieces of petitions and resolutions through consent calendars this morning with OVERWHELMING support:  
    •    Revised Social Principles - creations and economic
    •    Removal of harmful language - removed  harmful language banning UMC funds from going to LGTBQIA+ causes and replaces it with making sure that UMC fund don’t go towards causes that reject LGTBQIA – taking effect immediately; striking language banning DCOMS/BOMS that prevented moving forward with candidates for ordination; striking language prohibiting Bishops from consecrating “self avowed and practicing homosexuals; removing penalties and punishment for performing same gender weddings!!!!!;  moratorium all on judicial proceedings concerning human sexuality.
    •    Racial Justice (against Christian persecution in India. The UMC is the first denomination to call this out)
    •    Establish a Conference Caretakers of God's Creation Coordinator in Each Annual Conference
    •    Full communion with The Episcopal Church
Other notable items included the installation of Bishop Tracy Malone as Chair of the Council of Bishops.  She is the first African American woman to do so.  We extended our legislative time until 6:45pm to ensure we discussed all budget items. When we discuss that on Friday I am sure there will be A LOT of discussion!  Wednesday has some other key items coming.  I continue to be very optimistic that our church is getting beyond the dark time and becoming an inclusive and loving church for ALL!

April 29 (7th day):  Hello Beloved BUMC!  What a long day it was especially the afternoon.
Note I have copied/pasted some other people’s summaries.  Welcomed to worship with a a very uplifting and lively song by Choir of Congo.  Bishop Oliveto (Mountain Sky Area) then preached a rousing message “being a practicing self avowed “methonerd””.   She challenged us with these words, "We can’t be the church if we choose to overlook some members of the Body of Christ… If we define who we are by who we are leaving out, it begs the question, have we ever let Christ in!”  We then had a moving consecration of Deaconesses and Home Missioners which included 2 from Indiana - Alicia Mitchell and Lisa Miller Maidi.  This is a calling for lay people on par with the clergy role.  Since my back has been hurting I went to an exhibit booth that had massage chairs for part of lunch!   Amazing and healing.  We then passed a lot of legislation on the consent calendar this morning.
Here are the Highlights:
•⁠  ⁠Allow the Local Pastor Course of Study to be taken entirely online.
•⁠  ⁠Allowing deacons to preside at church conferences.
•⁠  ⁠⁠Require Board of Ordained Ministry to use the updated Medical Form from GBHEM (protecting private medical data).
•⁠  Regionalization petition #6 of 8. (
•⁠  Native American Comprehensive Plan. (
•⁠   Strengthening the Black Church for the 21st Century. (
•⁠  ⁠ National Plan for Hispanic/Latino Ministries. (
•⁠  ⁠ The Church and Deaf Ministries Steering Committee.
•⁠  ⁠Asian-American Language Ministry Plan .(
•⁠    ⁠Apology for Illegal Overthrow of Hawaiian Kingdom. (
After we adopted Saturday’s Consent Calendar, we spent 2+ hours discussing the number of bishops in Africa, vis a vis the budget.  It was painful to have delegates from different parts in Africa arguing that their situation needed a bishop more than another.  This was all referred back to the standing committee on Central Conferences and the financial administration for a new recommendation - Africa is the fastest growing UMC area.  We then heard reports from United Women in Faith (they were awesome and uplifting and I want to join!!!) , Africa University, Higher Education and Ministry, Abundant Health Initiative, Wespath (denominational pension & benefits plan), and the United Methodist Men (a real sleeper - they need to do better!).  You may have heard of the shooting of 3 US Marshalls and another police officer in Charlotte.  It was only about 10 minutes from the conference center.  We are fine, albeit shaken.  One officers who died was a member of a local UMC church.  Our work to reduce gun violence continues.  Wrapped up the evening with a dinner hosted by Indiana Conference Bishop and First Lady Trimble.  We have a lot of work ahead of us.  At the pace we are currently taking we would need to be here for a least another week!!  Yikes.

April 28 (6th day)Hello beloved BUMC - sabbath day!  Slept in today.  Attended 11am service at First UMC hearing 3 Bishops and a beautiful story by Bishop Cedric Bridgeforth (out gay black man) of his calling.  Later the 3 bishops shared their reflections on GC. Bishop Karen Oliveto (first lesbian bishop) expressed such joy in our future church after last week. She shared that in her 42 years as ordained, she didn’t once wake up thinking this is the day she would be fired from UMC!  Can you imagine such pain?  Lunch was a celebration of music and dance and barbecue!  In the evening Reconciling Ministries Network sponsored a fun and lively gathering at an Irish bar!
CLICK HERE: For Week 1 (April 22-27) Notes from General Conference by Albert Hidalgo

The Top 3 Legislative Priorities
 for the United Methodist General Conference ALL PASSED!!

1.) Global Regionalization.  PASSED
2.) Passage of the Revised Social PrinciplesPASSED
3.) Removal of harmful language and policies toward LGBTQ persons in the Book of Discipline.  PASSED

Guide to General Conference 

VIDEO: UM Bishops Discuss Worldwide Regionalization 

Pray for our Indiana Delegates to General Conference

Clergy Delegates (8): Russ Abel, Aleze Fulbright ,Lisa Schubert Nowling, Greg Pimlott, Rob Fuquay,  Adriane Rockhill, Duane Carlisle, &  Larry Whitehead.
Lay Delegates (8): Christopher Hancock, Kenneth Einselen, Albert Hidalgo, Alisa Isaacs-Bailey, Kim Arnott, Nathan Lundy, Shannon Priddy, & Carolyn Johnson.

Albert Hidalgo's April 7th
Pre-GC Presentation

Thanks to Everyone Who Participated in the 11:11 Prayer Vigil for General Conference 

LGBTQIA+ Timeline:
 1950 - Today