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General Conference Commission Names Study Team


October 27, 2020

The Commission on the General Conference has named a Technology Study Team to explore the implications of options for accommodating full participation at General Conference including, but not limited to, the possibility of utilizing technology and online voting.

The Commission made the decision to create the study team in response to a request from a group of young delegates to consider alternative methods of accommodating full participation due to concerns that the event would conflict with the start of the academic year in the U.S.

Now in the age of COVID-19, with continuing questions over the duration of the pandemic and the availability of an effective vaccine, the Commission on the General Conference faces the task of planning with multiple challenges: how to keep participants safe, provide for global participation, safeguard the integrity of the voting and credentialing process, and meet legal requirements.

“With the church in a place of uncertainty, we understand that many people are deeply interested in this event and, just like we do, want as much information as possible right now,” said Commission chair Kim Simpson. “But with more than ten months to go, there are still a lot of unknowns.”

Planning for a global gathering with the scope of the General Conference is undeniably complex. The study team will be aided by an advisory panel of volunteer staff and contractors who will work alongside the study team to provide practical reflection and suggestions on possible implementation of the ideas discussed. This team will also be consulting with a variety of individuals and groups, working to develop recommendations which will be brought to the Commission on the General Conference for consideration at the Spring 2021 meeting.

Carolyn Marshall, former secretary of the General Conference, has been named as the chair of this team and will lead the development of any proposals which might emerge for presentation to the Commission.  Having served as secretary for 16 years, Marshall brings a unique perspective to the possible ways in which the General Conference may be able to adapt and utilize additional technology in its work.

The Commission on the General Conference is scheduled to meet in a two-day virtual gathering on December 11-12, 2020. “We face questions that we don’t yet have answers to, but we are processing all of the various matters that need to be cared for and how those could be addressed so that the Commission can make sound decisions,” said Simpson.

The Commission looked for creative thinkers from across the church who have demonstrated experience in the intricate workings of The United Methodist Church at many levels.  Members of the group are:

Kim Simpson COGC Chair Mujinga Kashala COGC Vice-Chair Gary George COGC Secretary Carolyn Marshall Former Secretary of the General Conference Joy Barrett                          Annual Conference Secretary (Michigan) Courtney Preston Kellner      Annual Conference Chancellor (Kentucky) Tom Salsgiver                       Jurisdictional Secretary (NEJ)/Assistant to the Bishop (Susquehanna) Ellen Beasley                    Young Adult & COGC Member (SEJ) Audun Westad                Young Adult & COGC Member – Europe & Eurasia Rachel Rol                        Executive Assistant – Episcopal Office - Philippines Stanislas Kassongo    COGC Member – Africa Emily Allen         Director of Communications of a local church (California/Nevada) Sara Hotchkiss         Business Manager of the General Conference Gary Graves            Secretary of the General Conference

About General Conference

General Conference is the top policy-making body of The United Methodist Church. The conference can revise church law, as well as adopt resolutions on current moral, social, public policy and economic issues. It also approves plans and budgets for church-wide programs.

Media contact: Diane Degnan 615.742.5406 (o) 615.483.1765 (c) 


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