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May 17, 2016

General Conference pleads with bishops to lead
Delegates to General Conference voted to ask the Council of Bishops to lead the church out of the “painful condition” it is in after an address by Bishop Bruce Ough that called for unity but did not address full inclusion of LGBTQ people. The motion was made by the Rev. Mark Holland, delegate from Great Plains, who said Ough's call for unity did not provide a path forward. He asked the Council of Bishops to meet today and bring back a report tomorrow. His motion passed 428-364.
     In debate prior to the vote, the Rev. Tom Berlin, senior pastor of Floris UMC in Herndon and clergy head of the Virginia Conference delegation, supported the motion. “This morning, Bishop Ough said that at General Conference, the role of the bishop was to preside,” Berlin said. “Quite frankly, bishop, we think it’s your role to lead. We are asking for your leadership.” Berlin noted that bishops can call for a special session of General Conference. More ...

Tom Berlin interviewed by Washington Post on potential church split
In the May 17 issue of the Washington Post, the Rev. Tom Berlin, senior pastor of Floris UMC in Herndon and clergy head of the Virginia Conference delegation to General Conference, was quoted in an article about reports that United Methodist leaders are considering dividing over LGBT equality disputes. Berlin said that United Methodists are desperate for their leadership to propose something concrete, broad and hopeful. “It’s fair to say that literally everyone I have spoken to — activists, delegates, everyone — would like to see the bishops take some action,” Berlin said. More ...

Ted Smith objects to 'hostility' from protestors toward delegates
The Rev. Dr. Ted Smith, clergy delegate to General Conference and Fredericksburg District superintendent, issued a statement after serving on the Church and Society 2 legislative committee that voted to retain current language in the United Methodist Book of Discipline regarding homosexuality. Smith complained about the "hostility" from protestors following the committee vote. "Why is it that the creation of a 'safe space' is reserved for LGBTQ persons and supporters? Why is it acceptable for delegates to suffer unsafe space, hostile confrontation, and an absence of mercy while fulfilling our responsibilities?" More ...

Tom Berlin blogs about a proposal to revitalize local churches
In his blog, "House Proposal," the Rev. Tom Berlin, clergy head of the Virginia Conference delegation to General Conference, shares his thoughts about a proposal to invest $20 million to revitalize local churches by establishing a Standing Committee on Strategy and Growth “to develop and implement a strategy to first slow the decline in worship attendance and professions of faith, and then to return them to positive growth within the jurisdictional conferences.” More ...

Shenandoah University's Harambee Gospel Choir rocks General Conference
The Shenandoah University Harambee Gospel Choir brought down the house at the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry reception at General Conference on Monday, May 16. View a video about the group produced by Nick Ruxton, conference videographer. The video is posted on the conference website at, on the conference YouTube channel at and on the conference Facebook page at

Bishops vow to work toward unity, accountability
United Methodist bishops have adopted a “Covenant of Accountability,” in which they pledge to work for church unity and remain in community with each other despite differences in Christian conscience. More ...

GC2016 pauses for Black Lives Matter demonstration
Chanting “Black Lives Matter! Black Lives Matter,” close to 150 United Methodists swarmed the plenary floor at General Conference on May 16 to voice concern for the oppressed and marginalized. More ...

Clergy offer support to LGBTQ pastors
More than 1,500 United Methodist clergy have signed a letter stating they would refuse to fill the pulpit of a LGBTQ pastor who was removed for “God’s given sexual orientation or gender identity.” Marching around the Oregon Convention Center, a group of LGBTQ supporters sang and shouted, “Tear the Walls Down Now” in reference to the Bible story of Jericho, and asked an openly gay pastor to be a bishop candidate. More ...

Five elected to Judicial Council
United Methodists from Norway and Mozambique are among the new members of the denomination’s Judicial Council. Delegates to General Conference 2016 filled open positions for two clergy and three lay members on the nine-member council. More ...

More bishops for Africa, but not right away
General Conference 2016 delegates approved adding five more bishops in Africa, but not until 2020, when a comprehensive plan is to be in place for the continent's central conference and episcopal area boundaries. Some African delegates wanted to add two bishops right away, arguing that the church's growth in Africa demands it. More ...

Guaranteed appointment survives
Some clergy-related petitions have passed at General Conference 2016, and others are likely to be adopted, having made it onto the consent calendar. But a petition for "early ordination" and another that would have removed the constitutional bar to ending guaranteed appointment for ordained elders failed in committee. More ...

Follow Virginia Conference reports from General Conference
Follow Virginia Conference Communications staff coverage of General Conference on the conference website at, the conference YouTube channel at, the conference Facebook page at, the conference Twitter feed at, and the conference Instagram page at To follow or participate in conversations about General Conference on social media, use hashtags #UMCGC, #UMC and #VAUMC.

Follow events at General Conference on computer, phone or tablet
Even if you're not in Portland, you can follow all the action at General Conference on your computer, phone or tablet.

♦ Bookmark the website. is the source for everything about General Conference 2016. News, blogs, resources, videos and photos about everything happening at General Conference are available in this central location. United Methodist Communications will update this page throughout the General Conference with the latest news and daily summaries that share the highlights of each day.

♦ Watch the live stream. Whenever the conference is in session, will feature live streaming video where you will be able to watch the voting, worship, speeches and celebrations happening on the floor of General Conference. The feed will be available in English, French and American Sign Language. The schedule is available online, just remember all times listed are Pacific Time Zone, and you may have to adjust.

♦ Get the app. General Conference 2016 has a mobile device application available in your app store (Google Play | iTunes). News, videos, photos and daily devotions are there now, and much more will be added and updated throughout General Conference.

♦ Follow on social media. Follow UMCGeneralConference on Facebook, @UMCGC on Twitter and umcgc on Instragram for stories, photos, videos and links. Use the official hashtag of General Conference 2016, #UMCGC, on any social media platform to join and follow the conversations of United Methodists all over the world. One of the easier ways to follow #UMCGC will be available at

♦ Keep up with specific legislation. If you are interested in a specific piece of legislation, possibly one submitted by your congregation or annual conference, you can track it on a webpage in the General Conference section of

For in-depth news and features about United Methodist mission and ministry, subscribe to the Virginia United Methodist Advocate, the Virginia Conference’s award-winning monthly magazine — now available in both print and digital formats. Click here to subscribe. Or call the Communications office at 1-800-768-6040, ext. 110, or (804) 521-1110. Or e-mail For information about the Virginia Conference and resources for ministry, visit the Virginia Conference website at




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