With the petition deadline for the 2004 General Conference approaching within 2 weeks, the United Methodist Church urged the individuals and groups wanting to change the policies, procedures and practices of the denomination to hastily file their appeals.
"At this point in the process it would really help if we could get as many of the remaining petitions electronically—either by e-mail attachment or on diskettes," said the Rev. Gary W. Graves, petitions secretary for the UMC. "Any hard copies we receive have to be retyped. It would save hours and hours of work if we could get them electronically."
The first set of petitions, numbering at approximately 1,000, has already been entered into the database; they are currently being translated into French, German, Portuguese and Spanish for the book of legislation entitled “Advance Daily Christian Advocate.” The book will be distributed to legislatures during the upcoming quadrennial General Conference, April 27-May 7.
1,000 delegates are slated to attend the Pittsburgh conference, which acts as the official voice of the UMC. After each conference, revised editions of the Book of Discipline and Book of Resolutions are released. The delegates can change anything in the Book of Discipline except the church’s Constitution. Any recommended changes in the Constitution must be ratified by the annual conferences.
The 2004 assembly will have 11 legislative committees: church and society; conferences; discipleship; faith and order; financial administration; general administration; global ministries; higher education and ministry; independent commissions; judicial administration; and local church.