General Conference Rule Changes Proposed

December 05, 2011

The Rules Committee of the Commission on the General Conference has announced their recommendations for changes to the Plan of Organization and Rules of Order which provides the governance structure for the 2012 General Conference. The changes will be presented to delegates for consideration at the opening session.

"Our goal was to create a hospitable environment and an efficient structure for all delegates," said Judi Kenaston, committee chair. "Some of the significant changes will provide for worship and rest on the Sabbath, specify a set deadline for evening adjournment, and expand the time scheduled for legislative committee work by approximately 25 percent during the first week.”
Kenaston said the committee worked diligently to correct oversights, errors and problems that had been identified since 2008, as well as to keep abreast of technological advances.  Both official motions and unofficial requests from the 2008 General Conference were incorporated in order to improve and streamline plenary and legislative committee proceedings. 
The proposed rule changes include the following recommendations:
  • Make administrative committees more geographically representative by including at least one person from each central conference and jurisdiction, beginning in 2016.
  • Designate the members of the Committee on the Plan of Organization and Rules of Order to serve as the Committee on Ethics (a new committee requested by General Conference 2008 to investigate alleged rule violations).
  • Make training mandatory for those elected to serve as committee and sub-committee leaders.
  • Require that plenary sessions and legislative committees adjourn by 9:30 p.m. each day, and that committee meetings not conflict with plenary meetings.
  • Increase the time for legislative committees (23.5 hours of legislative time will be provided in the first week, mostly in the morning and afternoon, compared to 18.25 hours in 2008).
  • Set a deadline for legislative committee work to be completed by adjournment on Saturday of the first week. Legislative work not dealt with by this deadline will be reported to the plenary session as “not considered.”
  • Prioritize calendar items brought before the plenary by the Calendar and Agenda Committee in this order when possible: items affecting the global church, items with financial implications, items with minority reports (priorities have not previously been specified).
  • Stipulate that motions supported by the legislative committees be reported as disciplinary items recommended for adoption; non-disciplinary items recommended for adoption; or items recommended for referral. Items not placed on one of the three consent calendars will be listed in the Daily Christian Advocate as not acted upon because another petition dealing with the same subject was acted upon; not supported by the legislative committee; or not considered by the legislative committee.
  • Focus initial debate and voting on substitute motions and minority reports on the question of whether or not they should replace the main proposal put forward by the legislative committee. Once a preliminary decision has been made, debate will ensue on whatever motion remains before the body.
Further explanation of the proposed changes and a complete draft of the Plan of Organization and Rules of Order are available on the General Conference 2012 website.
About General Conference
The General Conference is the top policy-making body of The United Methodist Church, and meets once every four years to consider revisions to church law, as well as adopt resolutions on current moral, social, public policy and economic issues. It also approves plans and budgets for churchwide programs for the next four years. The 2012 meeting will take place April 24-May 4 at the Tampa Convention Center.