News and Views

Guidelines announced for electing delegates

Posted by Melissa Lauber on

This winter, clergy and lay people are invited to a season of discernment to assess if they wish to serve as delegates to the 2020 General Conference of The United Methodist Church and the Northeastern Jurisdictional Conference.

The General Conference, the denomination’s top legislative body, will meet May 5-15, 2020, in Minneapolis, Minn. The Jurisdictional Conference, a regional gathering, will meet July 13-17, 2020, in Baltimore. (These events are distinct from the special, called Session of General Conference, Feb. 23-26, 2019, in St. Louis.)

When it gathers at the Marriott Waterfront Hotel in Baltimore for this year’s Annual Session, May 29 to June 1, the Baltimore-Washington Conference will elect six clergy and six lay people to General Conference, six clergy and six lay people to the Northeastern Jurisdictional Conference, and four clergy and lay alternates — 32 delegates in all.

The number of delegates each annual conference is allotted is based on membership statistics. There are 12,557,214 professing members and 65,055 clergy in the denomination, who will be represented by 862 delegates at the 2020 General Conference. In the Baltimore-Washington Conference, the 12 delegates represent 1,049 clergy and 164,799 professing members. 

According to the Conference rules, all ordained clergy are eligible for election. Any clergy person who wishes to be a candidate will submit a petition of support, on a form provided by the Conference Secretary, bearing the signatures of 15 clergy who are full members of the Conference. (Clergy may also nominate their colleagues as candidates.) In addition to the petitions, clergy must submit a written statement of qualifications, relevant experience and other information. These statements should not exceed 150 words. Both are due by April 1.

Lay members who wish to become a nominee should submit a written statement of qualifications, relevant experience and other information to the Conference secretary by April 1. To be eligible, all laity, who are members of the Annual Conference, need to have been professing members of The United Methodist Church for at least two years next preceding the election, and have been active participants in The United Methodist Church for at least four years.

Before submitting their names, people are asked to consider the substantial time commitment delegates will be required to serve.

“This is not a commitment to be taken lightly,” stressed Delores Martin, the chair of the current delegation. In addition to mandatory monthly meetings, members are expected to do a significant amount of reading and other preparation for the two-week General Conference session., which some have compared to a marathon.

Before the nomination process even begins, people must reflect on whether they will be able to add this significant commitment to their schedules and lives, former delegates have said. “The work is too important to not take seriously.”

Delegates are also cautioned that campaigning of any kind is not allowed prior to or at the Annual Conference Session.

To submit your nomination, send an email to Cynthia Taylor, BWC Secretary, at

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