April 19, 2012
TAMPA, FL —– Nearly a thousand delegates, including 18 from the North Carolina Conference, and an estimated 2,500 visitors will gather at the Tampa Convention Center in Tampa, FL. April 24-May 4 for the 2012 United Methodist General Conference.
As the top policymaking body of the worldwide United Methodist Church, the General Conference meets every four years to determine the denomination’s future direction. It is the only body that speaks ofﬁcially for the more than 12.1 million-member church.
The theme of the 2012 conference is “Make Disciples of Jesus Christ to Transform the World.” During the 11-day session, delegates from around the world will consider more than 1,100 legislative petitions, set policies which may revise the denomination’s Book of Discipline, approve plans and budgets, and handle other business. The Book of Discipline regulates the manner in which local churches, annual conferences, and general agencies are organized. The book also sets policies regarding church membership, ordination, administration, property, and judicial procedures.
The delegates to the 2012 gathering are United Methodists elected by their annual conferences. Once every four years, annual conferences elect equal numbers of laity and clergy members to represent them at General Conference. The North Carolina Conference will have 18 delegates (9 clergy and 9 laity) attending the 2012 meeting. Four alternate delegates will also attend in the case of illness or emergency.
The clergy representatives include Beth Hood (Greenville), Gray Southern (Durham), Tim Russell (Clayton), Leonard Fairley (Laurinburg), Tim Reaves (White Oak), Trish Archer (Wilmington), Carl Frazier (Cary), Bill Gattis (Burlington), and Bob Bergland (Rocky Mount.) The clergy alternates are Ben Williams (Raleigh) and Edgardo Colon-Emeric (Durham.)
The laity delegates are Emily Innes (Wilmington), Christine Dodson (Garner), Courtney Jennings (Clayton), Gary Wayne Locklear (Pembroke), Bill Norton (Raleigh), Duncan McMillan (student at Campbell University), Ann Davis (Greenville), Mack Parker (Raleigh), and LaNella Smith (Durham). The two alternate laity delegates are Steve Taylor (Lumberton) and Laura Little (Greenville.)
Bishop Alfred Wesley Gwinn, Jr. serves as the episcopal leader of the North Carolina Conference. There are 237,000 members in the 816 churches of the North Carolina Conference. The geographic area of the conference includes 56 counties from Alamance County to the coast and from the Virginia line to the South Carolina border.