Dear Laity of The Oklahoma Conference of The United Methodist Church,
I invite you all into a time of prayer and discernment for our forthcoming 2019 Session of the Oklahoma Annual Conference where we will elect our lay delegates to the 2020 General and South Central Jurisdictional Conferences.
Accepting the call as a delegate representing our annual conference is not something to be taken lightly. By this sacred trust, you are charged with helping us as a church stay focused on our mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
Your participation as a delegate to the 2020 General and/or South Central Jurisdictional Conferences will afford you the opportunity not only to worship and fellowship with your global United Methodist family, but also to establish and affirm the polity (Book of Discipline) and principles that guide our church as we seek the Kingdom of God.
The election of lay delegates to the General and South Central Jurisdictional Conferences is set by the Book of Discipline and the process by the Standing Rules of the Oklahoma Conference.
It is my hope that you fully understand the commitment that will be expected from you before you nominate yourself for election
Interested and qualified lay members of our conference who are able to meet the associated time, attendance and financial responsibilities are invited to consider placing themselves in nomination for election as delegates to the 2020 General Conference and/or Jurisdictional Conference of our denomination. Elected full delegates will receive a per diem to cover some of the expenses of attending the conferences. However out of pocket expenses will require elected persons to cover all expenses over per diem amounts.
The Oklahoma Conference has a long tradition for being one of the hardest working and best prepared delegations for these conferences. As a result, delegates should be able and committed to attend all pre-conference preparatory meetings (possibly monthly), to read and study the substantial amount of proposed legislation, to participate in the interviewing of prospective candidates for the episcopacy, and to attend and actively participate in the approximately three weeks of General and Jurisdictional Conferences.
Also, for the 2020 General Conference it is important to understand that it is a long standing tradition that the first person elected, from the laity and clergy will lead the Oklahoma Conference delegation. For this election it will be a lay person. This individual will need the time to commit to spending the necessary countless hours in preparing and leading the delegation prior to and during General and Jurisdictional Conferences.
Those wishing to place their names in nomination are asked to complete the Oklahoma Lay Nominee Profile Form by midnight (12:00 pm) March 10, 2019.
At the 2019 Annual Conference Laity Session lay members and nominees will have time to interact. This will give the lay members an opportunity to meet and ask questions of the nominees.
Grace and Peace
Chuck Stewart, Conference Lay Leader
Many of the requirements of a lay delegate are explained in the next section of Frequently Asked Questions. I also encourage you to seek out a veteran delegate for their insight.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are General Conference and Jurisdictional Conference?
The United Methodist Church is organized as a denomination into Judicial, Executive and Legislative branches. The highest legislative body is the General Conference. The General Conference meets every four years; this is the top policy-making body of The United Methodist Church. The 2020 General Conference is scheduled for May 5-15, 2020 in Minneapolis Minnesota.
The General Conference is comprised of approximately 1,000 delegates with equal numbers of clergy and laity elected by Annual Conferences throughout the denomination. The General Conference revises The Book of Discipline, our denomination’s “Social Principles” and adopts resolutions on various current moral, social, public policy and economic issues. It also approves plans and budgets for church wide programs for the next four years. General Conference also elects members of the Judicial Council and some members of church wide agencies.
The Jurisdictional Conference is the legislative body for the jurisdiction. This includes Annual Conferences from the South Central Jurisdiction. ( Arkansas, Central Texas, Great Plains, Louisiana, Missouri, New Mexico, North Texas, North West Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma Indian Missionary, Rio Texas and Texas) The Jurisdictional Conference meets in the summer after the General Conference to care for duties associated with its mission; these include oversight of missionary efforts within the jurisdiction and most importantly, election and assignment of bishops to each Annual Conference. The South Central Jurisdictional Conference will meet on July 15-18, 2020 in The Woodlands Texas.
How are delegates chosen from our Annual Conference?
The Oklahoma Conference has a total of 14 delegates (7 Laity and 7 clergy) that will be elected to General Conference. An additional 7 Laity and 7 clergy will be elected to serve as alternate delegates to General Conference and as members of Jurisdictional Conference. The Oklahoma Conference will also elect these alternates along with additional alternates. The election will occur at our Annual Conference in May 2019.
Duties for “First Elected” Laity and Clergy
For the 2020 General Conference it is important to understand that it is a long standing tradition that the first person elected, from the laity and clergy will lead the Oklahoma Conference delegation. For this election it will be a lay person. This person is the point person for the delegation and is the contact person for the General Conference.
Both Lay and Clergy “First Elected” serve on the Jurisdictional Episcopal Committee. (The Jurisdictional Episcopal Committee “Assigns” Bishop’s to the conference they serve)
How is the election carried out?
At Annual Conference, the election will occur by a series of electronic ballots. The voting will be conducted on hand held key pads. A voting ID card will be included with your name tag. A majority vote process will elect each position sequentially. All valid nominees that completed the online nomination process will be assigned a ballot number. Laity elects lay delegates and clergy elect clergy delegates. The first delegates elected will fill both General Conference and Jurisdictional Conference delegation needs, with additional elections completing the South Central Jurisdictional Conference delegation. The first seven lay people elected will serve as delegates to General Conference and Jurisdictional Conference and the next seven will serve as alternates to General Conference and as delegates to Jurisdictional Conference.
Standing Rule C6.
6. Procedures at Annual Conference relating to potential nominees not in the “Lay Nominees Booklet”
a. Only those people identified in the “Lay Nominees Booklet” will be introduced at the election-year Annual Conference Laity Session.
b. Other than the “Lay Nominees Booklet,” no additional biographical information may be presented, by direct or indirect reference, prior to the Annual Conference Session or from the floor. Pursuant to the Discipline, election and balloting shall occur without any oral or written nominations, speeches, or debates. Printed materials shall neither be distributed at the door nor on the floor of the Annual Conference Session on behalf of any nominee or write-in candidate. Buttons, badges, or other campaign material are also prohibited.
c. The presiding bishop is asked to directly reprimand any effort at nominating, campaigning, speeches, or distribution of materials at the door or on the floor.
Who is eligible?
2016 Book of Discipline
¶ 36 Article V. -- The lay delegates to the General and Jurisdictional or central conferences shall be elected by the lay members of the annual conference or provisional annual conference without regard to age, provided such delegates shall have been professing members of The United Methodist Church for at least two years next preceding their election, and shall have been active participants in The United Methodist Church for at least four years next preceding their election, and are members thereof within the annual conference electing them at the time of holding the General and jurisdictional or central conferences.
Write In Candidate
If any eligible person whose name was submitted on the official “Write In Ballot” receives five (5) votes on any ballot, then the individual will be assigned a ballot number to be included in the remainder of the balloting process. If elected, the individual will be provided a profile sheet to be completed for the purpose of collecting contact information.
What do delegates to General and Jurisdictional Conferences do?
During the time prior to the General Conference and following election, the entire delegation will meet many times to review and educate themselves regarding issues facing The United Methodist Church. This will involve significant study and preparation along with commitment to meet as a delegation. At General Conference, the delegates will meet in committees and as an entire body. The alternates will fill in as designated by the leader of the delegation. At Jurisdictional Conference, the body meets and conducts its business primarily through plenary sessions with the election of Bishops.
By clicking to proceed to the self nomination profile sheet, you acknowledge that you have read the above letter and Frequently Asked Questions.
The form is available starting January 14 .