Oklahoma Conference of the United Methodist Church

Say What? Decoding the jargon around General Conference


General Conference will take place May 5-15. The Advance Daily Christian Advocate lists the petitions that will be considered by delegates during legislative committees, which will turn into calendar items and may change portions of the Book of Discipline. But what does that actually mean? Thankfully, UMC.org has a list of General Conference definitions to help decode the jargon around this important gathering. Find additional General Conference resources at www.resourceumc.org/en/churchwide/general-conference-2020. §


Advance Daily Christian Advocate (Advance DCA or ADCA): A set of publications containing the agenda, rules, delegate listings, petitions, reports from the general agencies/commissions and study committees, information for delegates, and codes of conduct. The publications are sent to all General Conference delegates prior to the conference.


Book of Discipline: The fundamental book that outlines the law, doctrine, administration, organizational work and procedures of The United Methodist Church. Each General Conference amends The Book of Discipline and the actions of the General Conference are reflected in the quadrennial revision. Often referred to as The Discipline.

Book of Resolutions: This volume contains the pronouncements on issues approved by the General Conference and currently valid. The Book of Resolutions contains not only the resolutions and policy statements passed by the most recent General Conference, but also all such statements still considered to represent the position of The United Methodist Church. The text of any resolution is considered the official position of the denomination on that subject.


Calendar Items: Calendar Items are petitions that have been acted upon by a legislative committee and are ready to be voted on by the plenary.

CALMS (Conference and Legislative Management System): The online legislative tracking system used by the General Conference.

Commission on the General Conference: This commission comprised of lay and clergy members has oversight responsibility for all arrangements necessary for the meeting of the General Conference.

Committee on Agenda and Calendar: This committee is responsible for guiding the order of business of the Conference.

Committee on Correlation and Editorial Revision: This committee works with the United Methodist Publishing House editorial staff to edit and publish The Book of Discipline and The Book of Resolutions.

Committee on Courtesies and Privileges: This committee considers matters of privilege and recommends to the Conference that they be heard. The committee also considers resolutions of commendation, courtesy and appreciation and extends courtesies of the Conference.

Committee on Credentials: This committee provides guidance to the secretary of General Conference regarding the approval of credentials of delegates.

Committee on Journal: This committee approves daily the record of proceedings of the General Conference prepared by the secretary of the General Conference and assistants.

Committee on Presiding Officers: This committee selects the bishops who serve as the presiding officers for each plenary session.

Committee on Reference: This committee reviews the assignment of petitions, reports, recommendations and resolutions to the legislative committees.

Committee on Central Conference Matters: This committee handles all petitions relating to the Central Conferences, Autonomous Methodist Churches, Affiliated Autonomous Methodist Churches, Affiliated United Churches and Concordat relationships.

Consent Calendar: In order to expedite the legislative process in the plenary session, committee items are grouped together, placed on a Consent Calendar and voted on in blocks. Any 20 delegates may have a Consent Calendar item removed by having such a request on file with the Secretary of the General Conference.


Daily Christian Advocate (DCA): The official journal of the General Conference. The DCA contains three sections: news and features, verbatim transcript of the conference proceedings and calendar items. A calendar item must be in the DCA for 24 hours before it can be voted on by the General Conference.

Discipline Paragraph: The basic unit in The Book of Discipline. Paragraphs are numbered consecutively within each chapter or section, but numbers are skipped between parts, chapters, and sections in order to allow for additions. Petitions to amend the Book of Discipline must refer to a specific Discipline paragraph.


General Conference Rules of Order: These are the rules of operation of the General Conference. General Conference rules deal with the number of delegates required to file minority reports, eligibility for the consent calendar, the number of delegates required to remove a calendar item from the consent calendar, etc. The rules are adopted by the General Conference as the first item of business. You can download a pdf of the proposed Rules of Order.


Legislative Committee: Each legislative committee meets during General Conference to review and make recommendations on petitions assigned to it. The General Conference Rules of Order set the number and name of each legislative committee and the Discipline paragraphs or topics assigned to each legislative committee.

Legislative Committee Referrals: If a legislative committee feels that a petition should be assigned to a different committee, it refers a petition to the Committee on Reference, which may assign it to another committee or refer it back to the original committee. The legislation tracking system facilitates the referral and re-referral of petitions.

Legislative Subcommittee: Each legislative committee may deem it necessary to divide into subcommittees which are assigned specific petitions to review. Each subcommittee elects a chairperson, vice chairperson, and secretary.


Minority Report: A minority report allows for the expression of differing views held by a significant portion of a legislative committee.


Petition: Petitions are proposed legislation to be considered by a legislative committee and voted on during General Conference. Petitions propose changes to paragraphs of The Book of Discipline, The Book of Resolutions or general requests for the church. The Advance Daily Christian Advocate (ADCA) contains a complete listing of petitions. See also Petition Number and Petition Identification Code.

Petition Identification Code (PIC): This is the numbering system used for a petition. The PIC is used when information related to a petition is printed or displayed. The PIC is displayed in the online legislative tracking system adjacent to the name of the petition. See the PIC format.

Petition Number: Numbers are assigned sequentially to each petition submitted to General Conference. This number is assigned automatically by the petition tracking system when a petition is entered into the system. See also Petition and Petition Identification Code. The petition numbers for the 2020 General Conference will begin with 20001.

Petitions Secretary: The petitions secretary receives all petitions submitted and enters each petition into the tracking system. The petition tracking system assigns a petition number and assigns petitions to a legislative committee based on The Book of Discipline paragraph number and the rules of General Conference.

Plenary: The plenary comprises all delegates entitled to be seated within the bar of General Conference.


Verbatim: The verbatim is the complete transcript of the dialog from the General Conference. The conference verbatim is published in the Daily Christian Advocate (DCA) and is available online.


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