By Tamica Smith Jeuitt, Mississippi Conference Communications Specialist
Photo right: Bishop James Swanson Sr. shared this picture of the Council of Bishops (COB) praying for Bishop Warner Brown, the President of the COB, before the General Conference began.
Photo below left: Communion service during the 2016 General Conference in Portland, Oregon. Photo credit Maidstone Mulenga.
With the 2016 General Conference of The United Methodist Church underway, news reports on everything from activities and comments from United Methodists and visitors attending the top legislative body meeting have begun circulating. The conference convenes May 10-20 at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland, Oregon.
Assuming fellow Methodists will want to stay up-to-date on every action, Mississippi Resident Bishop James Swanson Sr., expects people will not only read the articles, but have some angst about stories. For this reason, Swanson is reminding members of the Mississippi Conference and others--"God is in Control" therefore "Don't panic," especially over information released before an actual vote takes place.
"There will be voting on the rules that will govern our work and some issues. However, please be aware that all petitions or resolutions must be approved by a vote of the General Conference in order to become the law of The United Methodist Church. Therefore, unless you receive information that the General Conference has approved any petition or resolution I would receive that simply as information."
Every four years, the General Conference meets to 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.
In 1992, Swanson began attending the General Conference as a delegate. Over the years he said he has been asked--what he expects of the General Conference. His response has not changed.
"We do what we Methodist like to do and that is debate...but at the same time I still have a deep abiding faith in God's ability to steer God's church. I believe when all of the talking and debating is over, God's will be done and if I didn't believe that I wouldn't be a part of the church."
During the General Conference Swanson and his counterparts who do not have a say in voting, will be maximizing their presence in places like the prayer room and hallways for those who may be experiencing a crisis, need to talk or perhaps need to be reminded--don't panic, God is in control.