The first step is reading

As the 5th elected lay delegate to General Conference (GC) from our Oregon-Idaho Conference, my job is to understand and follow all petitions that are initiated by or impact the General Board of Global Ministries (GBGM) and share what I learn with our voting delegates, Jan Nelson and Rev. Donna Pritchard. As a first timer to General Conference, I also want to learn as much as I can about how our United Methodist church is organized and how we go about the business of General Conference.
General Conference is the top policy-making body of The United Methodist Church which meets once every four years. The conference can revise church law, as well as adopt resolutions on current moral, social, public policy and economic issues. It also approves plans and budgets for church-wide programs. The GBGM connects the church in mission. I’ve read through the GBGM action items. Fortunately, the GBGM website, provides all GBGM related petitions.
So far I attended the pre-General Conference gathering in January, which gave be a bit of insight into the process and some of the issues that will be addressed. You can review some videos on the umc.org website. I was really inspired by the way the pre-General Conference meeting was conducted. We learned about Christian Conferencing as a way to conduct all General Conference business in a respectful and caring manner. I pray that everyone at General Conference commits to this process.
I’m in the middle of reading through the 1,488 page Daily Christian Advocate which includes all the petitions and people for General Conference. You can download and enjoy our own copy at umc.org. The General Conference Guide is also a good resource.
A couple of weeks ago Norm Dyer and I went up to the Pacific Northwest Conference Office and met with the PNW delegation to General Conference. This provided an opportunity to meet members of the PNW delegation and learn more about some of the issues. I also got to learn so much from Norm on the drive up and back.
In addition I just completed the on-line course “Exploring General Conference.” It consists of 5 – 30 minute sessions that gives a good overview of General Conference. This course is free and open to anyone interested at www.umctraining.org.
I am thankful for this opportunity to serve. Having retired in October, I am able to devote a lot of time to this work. I look forward to meeting our United Methodist brothers and sister from around the globe, participating in worship services, attending plenary sessions related to GBGM, the Climate Vigil (May 12th , 7 pm), UMW Day (May 16th), celebrating the success of the Imagine No Malaria campaign and work, and a variety of other events and activities I don’t even know about yet. Please pray for our delegation and all General Conference delegates and participants. May we serve our conference well. Pray for loving hearts in all interactions and seeking God’s will in all decisions. I’m reminded of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians (4:2-5)

“Conduct yourselves with all humility, gentleness, and patience. Accept each other with love, and make an effort to preserve the unity of the Spirit with the peace that ties you together. You are one body and one spirit, just as God also called you in one hope.  There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 and one God and Father of all, who is over all, through all, and in all.”

Emilie Kroen
Emilie Kroen is a member of the Board of Lay Ministry and Chair of the Steering Committee for Imagine No Malaria in the Greater Northwest Area. She will be attending General and Jurisdictional Conference as a Jurisdictional Reserve Delegate.