By Jessica Brodie
COLUMBIA—With two meetings down and a full commitment to prayer in their hearts, South Carolina’s 16 delegates to next year’s United Methodist General Conference are pressing on in their preparations for the May quadrennial event.
The Hon. Jackie Jenkins, who was the first elected among laity, is delegation chair, and she said she is striving to lead these men and women of God in a way that serves Jesus foremost and fosters authentic Christian fellowship among delegates.
“Our meetings are highly undergirded with opening worship service and Holy Communion, that we may be guided by the Holy Spirit to face the intensive task ahead and fulfill God’s will as we undertake this great work before us,” Jenkins said. “Everyone was charged with the task of unceasing prayer for one another.”
The prayer names and needs were offered by delegates as worship and devotion. Dr. Ernest Etheredge asked the Rev. Sara White to offer prayer. Following the devotion, Etheredge conducted Holy Communion. A basket was passed around with the names of delegates. Each delegate was asked to choose a name out of the basket and urged to lift that person or persons to the Lord in prayer throughout the year.
At both their first and second meetings, held at 4 p.m. July 28 and Aug. 25 at the United Methodist Conference Center in Columbia, the delegates accepted the mission statement by consensus and finalized their covenant agreement as to how they will operate as a delegation. While they were shown a video of the General Conference and Jurisdictional Conference process, they were also given an electronic handbook to better orient them, as well. including reviewing and discussing a handbook. Delegates also handled credentialing and committee assignment tasks, plus elected Constance Barnes as their treasurer.
On Aug 24, they established their process for determining their episcopal nominee and finalized legislative committee assignments, as well as started taking a look at proposals being offered about the future of The United Methodist Church. They also finalized their meeting dates.
Elected at Annual Conference in June, the eight lay and eight clergy delegates, plus alternates, will meet mostly monthly (with the exception of December and May) as they prepare for General Conference, set for May 5-15, 2020, in Minneapolis. The delegates will also head to the Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference July 15-18, 2020, at Lake Junaluska, North Carolina, along with 16 other South Carolina lay and clergy delegates elected for that quadrennial meeting. Many of those elected will be first-time delegates.
General Conference is held once every four years, with the exception of the special session in February 2019 to address a report from the Commission on a Way Forward on unity amid church strife over differing views on human sexuality. At General Conference, delegates discuss and vote on petitions and resolutions proposed by individuals, conferences and other groups within the UMC, from budgetary concerns to issues such as sexuality, abortion, poverty and more. General Conference, comprised of roughly 1,000 representatives from every conference in the worldwide UMC, is the only body that can set official policy and speak for the denomination. Legislation passed at General Conference results in revisions to the Book of Discipline (a book of law) and Book of Resolutions (a book of policies on social issues).
Jurisdictional Conference gathers representatives from every conference in the Southeastern Jurisdiction to elect new bishops, approve the budget for the next four years and conduct general business.
Jenkins said she is “confident” with the delegation’s ability to “ensure sound processing and appropriate representation of our conference at our 2020 General and Jurisdictional conferences.”
General Conference Clergy
- Rev. Ken Nelson
- Dr. Robin Dease
- Rev. Keith Hunter
- Rev. Susan Leonard
- Rev. Emily Sutton
- Rev. Will Malambri
- Rev. Tiffany Knowlin Boykin
- Rev. Karen Jones
Alternates: Rev. Tim Rogers and Rev. Cathy Mitchell
General Conference Laity
- Jacqueline Jenkins
- James Salley
- Michael Cheatham
- Herman Lightsey
- Chris Lynch
- Martha Fridy Thompson
- Dr. David Braddon
- Emily Evans
Alternates: Betty Void and David Salter
List of Delegates by Order of Legislative Committee
- Church and Society 1: Robin Dease
- Church and Society 2: Jackie G. Jenkins
- Church and Society 3: Keith Hunter
- Conferences: Michael Cheatham
- Discipleship: Emily Evans
- Faith and Order: Susan Leonard
- Financial Administration: James Salley
- General Administration: Emily Sutton/ David Braddon
- Global Ministries: Karen Jones
- Higher Education/Superintendency: Herman Lightsey
- Independent Commissions: Tiffany Knowlin Boykin
- Judicial Administration: Will Malambri
- Local Church: Christopher M. Lynch
- Ordained Ministry: Ken Nelson/Martha F. Thompson