Lay Delegate to General Conference
Carol Ackley is the Kentucky Conference lay leader. She attended the 2008 General Conference as a delegate and described it as “a wonderful experience.” When asked about her experience at the 2008 General Conference, she replied, “At first, it was over whelming. There were about 1,000 delegates from all over the world and 22 different languages interpreters were needed. I truly felt that I was, indeed, part of the global church of the United Methodist Church. Those in our delegation who had been before were very helpful in guiding us new people. This first time attending was not only eye opening, but a great learning experience about the policies and structure of the United Methodist Church.”
Ms. Ackley wanted to be a delegate to this year’s General Conference in part because she wanted to learn what was happening with issues and task force studies that were initiated at the 2008 Conference. In addition, she said, “There are some very important reports coming before the General Conference this year—Call to Action Report, Ministry Study, and Pension Plan. These studies could change the structure and policies of the United Methodist Church. I want to have a voice and vote in helping to make sure of what I feel is best for the General Church.”
Here are additional thoughts from Ms. Ackley on General Conference and preparing for it.
On what it means to be a delegate to General Conference
I am greatly honored and humbled to be leading the Kentucky Laity Delegation to this 2012 General Conference. But, this carries much responsibility. I know I have to be well informed and prepared when it comes to working in my respective Legislative Committee, which is Discipleship, and on the major issues facing General Conference. This is not a vacation, but a time of service when delegates hopefully will help strengthen our existing United Methodist Church and ultimately help in making disciples for the transformation of this world.
On preparing for General Conference
The delegates selected at our KY Annual Conference have met twice already. We meet again in March. We have developed a covenant as we work together in preparation for General Conference. This covenant commits each of us to prayer for our self, for the other delegates, and for the General Conference as a whole, discernment, holy conferencing, and staying updated on major issues which we know we will be dealing with. The updating is done by being proactive in reading the Daily Christian Advocate as well as MANY mailings that are received that deal with both sides of many issues. Also, at our meetings, guests have been invited to further inform us on issues we feel we need more clarification. There is much personal praying on my part. Prayers that I will be prepared to the best of my abilities to make the best decisions as I go to General Conference and prayers for good health and physical strength. These are long days for two weeks. For example, in 2008, I was on a Legislative Committee that worked until 1:30 a.m. one day and until 2:00 a.m. the next night. And, I had to be ready to catch the shuttle the next morning at 6:15 a.m. I think I was functioning in a “zombie-like” mode. Hopefully, this will not happen this time.
Also, Rev. Debbie Wallace-Padgett and I attended a Pre-General Conference News Briefing in Tampa, Florida, in January.
I enjoy the worship services. The music and the choirs selected to sing are just outstanding. Different cultures and regional areas are most fascinating to listen to and enjoy. Very uplifting! And, the wonderful sermons!
I enjoy seeing people whom I have not seen in a while and reigniting old friendships. I also enjoy meeting new people and establishing new relationships.
I like the displays and shop areas.
The issues of homosexuality and abortion are very controversial subjects. I know there will be demonstrations and floor speeches. Observing all of this can be very difficult at times since these can get quite vocal and emotional.
The delegates will be dealing with some very serious issues—restructuring of the General Church and the concept of a “set-aside” bishop, the implementation and effects of the ministry study, funding of the pension plan to just name a few. I anticipate much discussion and debate on the floor of the General Conference. But, how will it be different? One can only hope that all business matters will be handled in the spirit of holy conferencing and God’s guidance and wisdom will be evident in the decisions made.