Individuals and groups wanting to change policies, procedures and practices of the United Methodist Church have until Nov. 29, 2003, to submit petitions to the General Conference, the denomination's top lawmaking body.
The church's general agencies must submit their reports for General Conference by Aug. 1 and their petitions by Oct. 1. Those will be included in the Advance Daily Christian Advocate, a publication giving advance program information about the assembly. The book will be published in English, French, German and Portuguese.
The next meeting of the General Conference, which convenes every four years, will be April 27-May 7, 2004, in Pittsburgh.
The General Conference, the only body that can speak officially for the denomination, comprises nearly 1,000 delegates - half clergy and half layperson. After each conference, revised editions of the Book of Discipline and Book of Resolutions are released.
General Conference delegates are not restricted for modifications within the Book of Discipline except the church's Constitution. Any recommended changes in the Constitution must be ratified by the annual (regional) 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. In 2000, General Conference had 10 committees.
Each valid petition is given a number and title. Each legislative committee deals with petitions related to a series of paragraphs from the Book of Discipline. Petitions related to the Book of Resolutions are sorted by subject matter. A legislative committee can recommend to the full delegation concurrence or non-concurrence with the language as submitted, or the committee may change the language and then recommend concurrence. Legislative committees can also submit majority and minority recommendations.
Petitions (three hard copies required and 3.5 inch diskette requested) should be mailed to: Gary W. Graves, petitions secretary, United Methodist General Conference, P.O. Box 6, Beaver Dam, KY 42320.
Petitions (three hard copies required and 3.5 inch diskette requested) submitted via commercial overnight carriers (Federal Express, UPS, DHL) should be sent to: Gary W. Graves, petitions secretary, United Methodist General Conference, 302 N. Lafayette St., Beaver Dam, KY 42320.