Delegates persevere to complete task (May 14, 2004)

e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service

Delegates persevere to complete task

May 14, 2004    News media contact:  Michael Wacht*    
407-897-1140     Orlando  {0076}

An e-Review Feature
By J.A. Buchholz**

PITTSBURGH — It was a long two weeks for Florida’s delegates to the 2004 General Conference here April 27-May 7.

Days began at 8:15 p.m. and ended at 10 p.m., with one day creeping past the midnight hour.

The quadrennial meeting began with an entire week of legislative committees sorting through hundreds of pieces of legislation. Throughout General Conference delegates were subject to legislation too numerous to count, amendments to amendments, majority reports, minority reports and enough reports to make anyone’s head spin.

Although delegates were often weary, they steeled themselves to make the best decisions for the church members who elected them. The result of those decisions is updates that will be made to the 2004 Book of Discipline, The United Methodist Church’s book of law, which also includes the denomination’s social principles, and the 2004 Book of Resolutions, which focuses on worldwide concerns and social justice issues.

John Dowell, a lay delegate and member of First United Methodist Church, Tampa, characterized General Conference as being “extremely tiring,” but a worthwhile experience.

“It’s an experience I recommend to everyone,” he said. “There are some awfully long days, but I’m blessed to be a part of it.”

Lynette Fields, a lay delegate and member at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church, Windermere, said she enjoyed the camaraderie among delegates. This was her third time as a delegate to General Conference, and she served on a subcommittee of the General Board of Church and Society.

“We had 11 people on the committee from five different countries and four jurisdictions,” she said. “It was such a celebration of everyone, and I’ve never had an experience like that on a subcommittee. That is how General Conference should be.”

The Rev. Clark Campbell-Evans, superintendent of the Miami District, said as a first-time delegate he was “amazed” at the large global nature of the church.

“It’s been so good to see people come from around the United States with the common United Methodist heritage,” he said. “And there have been moments of incredible joy and celebration as the large worldwide body has come together. The days are long, but we are dealing with issues that are critical to the mission of who we are.”

Annie J. Woods, a reserve delegate and member of Indian River City United Methodist Church, Titusville, made her second appearance at General Conference. She agreed the days were long, but said she was prepared. She said she especially enjoyed the times of worship and recognizing 135 years of United Methodist Women.

“The long days go with the territory,” she said. “You have to have the right mental attitude or it defeats you.”

Betty Sue Mason, a lay delegate and member of Seminole Heights United Methodist Church, Tampa, said the gathering is too important to the life of the church to complain about the sometimes wearisome process. This General Conference was Mason’s third.

“I was pretty well prepared for it,” she said. “I’ve done my homework before I got here. I would say my time here has been good and important.”

First-time lay delegate Amy Miller, a member of Christ United Methodist Church, Leesburg, said there’s nothing like experiencing General Conference for yourself.

“I’ve heard about General Conference all my life,” she said. “It’s a very interesting process. I’m used to long days, but these are different kinds of long days. They can either drag you down mentally and emotionally or really energize you.”

For a complete wrap-up of the decisions made at General Conference visit the Florida Conference Web site at


This article relates to General Conference.

*Wacht is director of Florida United Methodist Communications and managing editor
of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.
**Buchholz is a staff writer for e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.

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