Delegates consider legislation during the 2008 General <br/>Conference. A UMNS photo by Mike DuBose.The United Methodist Church is readying for General Conference, the quadrennial meeting of its top policy-making body. Nearly 1,000 delegates will gather in Tampa from April 24 to May 4 to consider legislation and church business. As one of the 13 seminaries of The United Methodist Church, Candler School of Theology is also preparing for the events in Tampa, with students, alumni, faculty, and staff attending the 2012 conference. 

Candler will be well represented among the delegates, with 39 Candler alumni serving in this role. Mathew Pinson, assistant dean of development and alumni relations, and P. Alice Rogers, associate professor in the practice of congregational leadership, are also delegates. 

Anne Burkholder, associate dean of Methodist Studies and professor in the practice of ecclesiology and church leadership, is a former delegate but will be spending this General Conference training future delegates. She is taking 20 United Methodist students to Tampa as part of a denominational studies class. The students met in February to learn the history and structure of General Conference, and over the past few weeks they have been completing online classwork to learn about the major issues and petitions that will be discussed. Once in Tampa, the students will be responsible for tracking legislation through the committees and plenaries. 

“My hope is that these students become passionate about being involved in the process of creating change in the church,” said Burkholder. “This group of students is diverse ethnically and theologically, but they are all United Methodists. I hope that no matter where their passions lie, I’m training them to understand polity and the ways in which they can be activists for God.”

In addition to tracking legislation, the students will be meeting with people who have been intimately involved with preparation for General Conference to learn more about what goes on behind the scenes. 

Burkholder’s class also will attend Candler’s General Conference Alumni Breakfast on May 1. The breakfast, held at 7 a.m. in rooms 13-16 of the Tampa Convention Center, is open to all alumni who would like to attend (RSVP to candleralum@emory.edu). 

The Candler Singers, under the direction of Barbara Day Miller, were chosen from ensembles from around the world to lead music at General Conference. They will perform three times on April 30 and again at the Candler Alumni Breakfast on May 1. The Singers also will perform at nearby churches and retirement communities in Florida during their General Conference tour. For their full schedule, see the Candler Calendar.