General Conference 2016 delegate numbers released

LAKE JUNALUSKA, N.C. -- The secretary of the General Conference, Rev. L. Fitzgerald Reist, has released a list of numbers of delegates by annual conferences. Secretaries of each annual conference were previously notified how many delegates their own conference would have at the 2016 General Conference, scheduled for May 10-20 in Portland, Ore.

In Florida, the delegation will consist of nine clergy and nine laity members. Election is scheduled for the 2015 Annual Conference meeting, which will be held in Daytona Beach. For a breakdown by annual conference, click here.

The number of delegates per annual conference is calculated based on the requirement for one lay and one clergy delegate for each annual conference, with additional delegates assigned according to a formula that considers the total clergy and lay membership per conference.

“The reduced number of delegates did not result in significant changes in the proportionate representation of delegates from individual jurisdictions and central conferences,” said Reist, who has served as the secretary since his election in 2004.

Thirty percent of delegates in 2016 will be from Africa, 58.3 percent from the U.S., 4.6 percent from Europe and 5.8 percent from the Philippines, with the remainder from the Concordat churches.

At the October 2013 meeting of the Commission on the General Conference, the body voted to reduce the total number of delegates for the 2016 General Conference from nearly 1,000 to approximately 850. The 2012 General Conference shifted the responsibility for determining the target number of delegates from the secretary of the General Conference to the Commission, offering the rationale that it should not be the decision of only one person.

The Constitution of The United Methodist Church allows for the General Conference to have 600 to 1,000 delegates. The overriding factor in reducing the number of delegates was a desire to move toward a smaller structure that meeting facilities outside the U.S. could accommodate.

“While there were reasons to set the number of delegates at the higher and the lower end of the range, the commission arrived at this figure in a spirit of compromise,” said Judi Kenaston, commission chairperson. “It is an incremental move toward a smaller conference, which will allow us to hold General Conference outside the United States, and it represents responsible stewardship while limiting the percentage change in representation from various parts of the worldwide church.”

In other General Conference news, United Methodist Communications announced Friday that Minneapolis will be the site of the 2020 General Conference, tentatively slated for May 5-15.

* Susan Green, Florida Conference managing editor, contributed to this report.

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