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UMNS/MIKE DUBOSE

Delegates honored the Rev. L. Fitzgerald Reist II for his years of service as secretary of the United Methodist General Conference. He served from 2004 to 2016. Presenting him with a blanket are Cynthia Kent (left) and Raggatha Calentine.

UMNS/KATHLEEN BARRY

Bishop Minerva Carcaño prays with General Conference participants outside the plenary at the Oregon Convention Center. Bishops – readily identifiable by their stoles – made themselves available to pray with attendees during break times.

UMNS/PAUL JEFFREY

Rights activists march on May 16 around the Oregon Convention Center, the site of the 2016 General Conference in Portland. Using the theme of Jericho in which walls were brought down, the demonstrators were demanding that the church be more inclusive of LGBTQ people in its ministries. It was one of several demonstrations outside and inside the convention center.

UMNS/MAILE BRADFIELD

Deaconesses and home missioners stand following commissioning during the May 16 worship service at General Conference. The 26 commissioned are the newest members of the covenant community, which is now a lay order in The United Methodist Church.

UMNS/KATHLEEN BARRY

The Rev. David Valera leads a prayer for the May 12 climate vigil sponsored by the Pacific Northwest Conference and others. The vigil included prayers and concern for the ways that climate change is affecting creation.

UMNS/MIKE DUBOSE

Bishop John Yambasu commissions the Rev. Marcel Sachou as a missionary in The United Methodist Church. Sachou, a church planter and pastoral mentor from Côte d’Ivoire, will serve in the Central African Republic. He was one of 29 missionaries commissioned.

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Time to celebrate, time to commit

 

General Conference is the highest legislative assembly in The United Methodist Church. Its debates and decisions generate headlines. Worship and prayer, celebrations and demonstrations calling for change also abound either as official parts of the quadrennial event or adjunct to it.

Festive worship opened each morning of General Conference 2016 May 10-20 at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland. Delegates, staff and visitors gathered for daily celebrations of Holy Communion. The Prayer Room was open throughout the session for individual devotions and spiritual direction.

Reports, presentations and special events reminded General Conference of what United Methodists accomplish together as they seek to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. Among those celebrated in Portland were:

  • Imagine No Malaria
  • Ministries living out the Four Areas of Focus
  • United Methodist higher education
  • Consecration of deaconesses and home missioners
  • Commissioning of missionaries

Anniversaries observed included:

  • 250th – Establishment of John Street Church, New York (oldest Methodist church in the United States)
  • 200th – Death of Francis Asbury
  • 200th – Birth of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church
  • 150th – United Methodist Women (actual anniversary is in 2019)
  • 60th – Full clergy rights for women
  • 30th – Disciple Bible study
  • 20th – Creation of the Order of Deacon

Vigils and demonstrations focused on:

  • Clean water/environmental justice
  • Climate change
  • Remembering those who have died of AIDS
  • Immigration
  • United Methodist ministry by, to and with LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, queer/questioning) people