GC logoWhen United Methodists from around the world touch down in Portland, Oregon, next month for the 2016 General Conference of The United Methodist Church, Candler School of Theology will be well represented among them. From May 10-20, faculty, senior staff, and student representatives will contribute to General Conference in a variety of ways, from acting on denominational legislation to leading worship and learning about denominational life.

Several members of the Candler community will be in the thick of the action as delegates, elected by laity and clergy of the North Georgia Conference of The United Methodist Church. Assistant Dean of Development and Alumni Relations Mathew Pinson will serve as chair of the North Georgia Conference delegation, and Associate Professor in the Practice of Practical Theology Alice Rogers will take part as a clergy delegate. Elizabeth Corrie, associate professor in the practice of youth education and peacebuilding, will attend as a reserve lay delegate, while Bridgette Young Ross, Emory University’s dean of the chapel and spiritual life and a current student in Candler’s Doctor of Ministry program, will be on hand as a reserve clergy delegate.

Others representing Candler at General Conference will include Dean Jan Love, who currently serves as vice president of the Association of United Methodist Theological Schools, secretary of The United Methodist Church’s University Senate, and on the Board of Ordained Ministry for the North Georgia Annual Conference. Associate Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Mary Lou Greenwood Boice and Director of Annual Giving and Alumni Relations Nefertiti Williams will also attend. Associate Dean of Worship and Music Barbara Day Miller, who retires at the end of the semester, will culminate her 19 years at Candler by directing the Candler Singers in worship for the fourth consecutive General Conference.

Apart from leading worship, General Conference will provide other opportunities for Candler students to experience the inner workings of the denomination up close. First-year MDiv students Marquice Hobbs and Virginia Greer will serve as lay delegates from the Texas Conference and the Virginia Conference respectively, while first-year MDiv student Tiffania Willetts will serve as the first reserve lay delegate from the Florida Conference and first-year MDiv student William Black will serve as a reserve delegate from the South Georgia Conference. In all, a group of 22 students from the school’s Methodist Studies program will witness proceedings in Portland, led by Associate Dean of Methodist Studies Anne Burkholder and Assistant Professor in the Practice of Practical Theology and Director of Contextual Education II Thomas W. Elliott Jr.

“Students will be tracking legislation through each step of the process, engaging with General Conference leaders, meeting their own conference delegations, and seeing the whole experience from the opening orientations to the final gavel,” Burkholder says. The group will meet nightly to discuss the events of the day.  

In the countdown to General Conference, Burkholder and Elliott will join fellow Methodist Studies faculty members Rex D. Matthews and Kevin M. Watson as speakers at the 2016 Mallard Lay Theology Institute this Saturday, April 9, at Atlanta’s Northside Church. “Holy Conferencing: From Wesley to 2016” will focus on the origins, history, and current issues facing the General Conference. Registration is still open. Learn more and register here.

(Top photo by Bruce Forster: The Oregon Convention Center. Courtesy of The Oregon Convention Center.)