With Paul, I write, “I give thanks for my every remembrance of you.” These last 23 days in Portland have reminded me again of the joy of the work of ministry among the people of the Memphis and Tennessee Conferences. Already I am hearing wonderful reports of what God is doing on the Sunday after General Conference. Baptisms, professions of faith, celebrations of graduations, mission teams planning for ministry. Thank you for your faithfulness over the work to which God is calling us.
Many, many of you have followed General Conference day by day, vote by vote, via the internet. While the headlines captured much of the drama around the surface of the Conference, the real work occurred in legislative sessions led by lay and clergy men and women from across the world.
The faithfulness and tenacity of the delegates from the Nashville Area was inspiring to me. In addition to the delegates, there were those serving behind the scenes, doing whatever was needed to facilitate the work of General Conference. When the benediction was pronounced Friday, May 20, much had been accomplished. Below are some of the highlights.
For the sake of the Mission
To be clear, the General Conference chose to stand united for the sake of staying in mission. As a global church made up of people with differing viewpoints, we affirm a commitment to maintain and strengthen the unity of the church. We had serious discussions about the global growth of the church and the state of the church in the U.S. and passed a $604 million dollar budget for 2017-2020 which includes $5 million for theological education in the Central Conferences. This a slight increase over the $603.1 million dollar budget approved at the 2012. We moved the debate about human sexuality to a process outside this general conference session to a time in the future which will allow us to engage in deeper discussion. It is also an increase over the $599 million budget proposed to the 2016 General Conference delegates, which would have been The United Methodist Church’s lowest in 16 years . . .