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2020 General Conference Delegate Elections Letter

Dear Annual Conference Members:

We hope you received and have read carefully the September 2018 email sent to you with important information. Remember your bio is due by January 15, 2019 if you would like it to be included in the Voter’s Guide. The question has been raised about what people should do if they are waiting for the results of the 2019 Special General Conference to decide if they want to be a delegate. If you want to be in the Voter Guide, you need to submit your information by January 15, 2019 and then after the General Conference you have until March 15 to let us know you want removed from the Voter Guide. You can also withdraw at Annual Conference.

This June we will elect a General Conference delegation of seven clergy (deacons and elders) and seven laity. We will also elect an additional seven laity and seven clergy delegates for Jurisdictional Conference. Finally alternates to the Jurisdictional Conference will be elected. Your Election Team will propose we elect four laity and four clergy as alternates. Jurisdictional delegates are the alternates for General Conference.
At the 2018 Annual Conference, we reduced the West Ohio Conference Budget by 10% for 2019. Many steps are being taken to bring good stewardship of our resources to our shared mission and ministry. One of the steps will be focusing electronic voting for delegates on one day of Annual Conference, which will save significant money. If we do not complete our elections in that day, we will need to use paper ballots to complete our work the next day. At this time, the Agenda Committee has designated Tuesday as Voting Day.

Many Annual Conferences follow this process and complete all delegate voting in a single day. We’ve done our research based on time allocated to voting in West Ohio and are confident it will work in West Ohio too. In addition, we are now, by Constitutional Amendment, required to have each person elected be so by a majority. This means we cannot move to suspend the rules and move the inclusion of the remaining needed persons. Everyone elected must be so by a majority vote. This is why we are proposing there be only four laity and four clergy alternates to Jurisdictional Conference. Being held in Fort Wayne, Indiana for a short few days, more than four alternates in each category will likely not be needed.

Please read carefully through the Values, Guidelines and Procedures attached to this email and also found on the West Ohio Conference Election Page. We ask that you refer to this page as you have questions. Stay alert to emails that come between now and Annual Conference. Be engaged in review of the Book of Reports and Pre-Conference Briefings, and watch for the Voter’s Guide to be sent in May, 2019.
We believe God is an active partner in our election process and ask that you surround this election with prayer.

The West Ohio Annual Conference Election Team
   Bruce Boyd and Cyndy Garn, Co-Chairs
   Christina Albrecht, Alethea Botts, Leroy Chambliss,
   Ron Fanning, Matt Overman, Sherri Rogers
   Staff: Conference Registrar Jack Frost


GENERAL & JURISDICTIONAL DELEGATE ELECTION PROCESS

  • We utilize a self-nomination process for both lay and clergy. Bios received by January 15, 2019 will be included in the voter guide. Names and bios received after January 15, 2019 will not be in the voter guide but will receive an election number.
  • Nominations from the floor will be taken at the laity session of the Annual Conference, 2019.
  • Election numbers will be assigned to all laity nominated through the self-nomination process or at the initial laity session and to all clergy who are elders and deacons in full connection. A listing of names and election numbers will be provided at Annual Conference.
  • Voting will be done utilizing electronic keypads.
  • Write-In votes will not be possible.
  • We will be electing seven clergy and seven lay delegates to General Conference. We will elect an additional seven clergy and seven lay delegates to Jurisdictional Conference. The Election Team is proposing we elect four clergy and four lay alternates. Each elected person must have a majority of the vote.
  • If requested and approved by the Annual Conference, the Conference will determine a time and place for Conference members to have conversations with lay and clergy candidates.
  • The Conference Election Team will compile, provide a tally after each ballot. This tally will include:
    • The name and number of the candidate
    • The vote total of each person receiving votes (subject to rules established or amended by the body)
    • The gender, racial-ethnic identity and age category of each person receiving votes
    • The order (elder/deacon) of each clergy candidate
    • A report of the gender, racial-ethnic, age category, and order composition of the delegation elected to that point in time.


VALUES BASED ELECTIONS PROCEDURES

  1. A record of each ballot, complete with all pertinent information about each candidate, will be announced prior to taking the next ballot.
  2. Any candidate wishing to withdraw from the election shall notify the Bishop, who will report the withdrawal to the Conference.
  3. The Conference Election Team will make available to any candidate and to any local congregation or group recommending a candidate, via an approved mailing house, access to mailing information of clergy and lay members of Annual Conference. Those requesting the information may, at their own expense via the mailing house, distribute election materials, provided they covenant to abide by our common values. The Election Team must report to the Conference any persons/groups not abiding by this process.
  4. The Conference Election Team will prepare and distribute a VOTER GUIDE.
  5. In addition, all official and unofficial groups are asked to include their elections information in a Compilation of Recommended Candidates to be created by the Conference Election Team.
    • This Compilation will be distributed within the bar of the Conference to all its members prior to the first General Conference ballot.
    • Groups participating in this process will covenant to distribute updated recommendations only through this process. The Election Team must report any exceptions to the Conference.
  6. If requested and approved by the Annual Conference, the Conference will determine a time and place for Conference members to have conversations with lay and clergy candidates.


VALUES BASED ELECTIONS
The Basic Christian Value: Jesus Christ, Savior and Lord, is our model for all of life.

DERIVED VALUES

  • All persons, created in God’s image, are of inestimable worth.
  • Unity is one of God’s gifts to the Church.
  • Every election should be a corporate discernment of God’s will.
  • Elections should reflect the rich diversity of our Conference.
  • Elections should include theological discourse.
  • Elections should be marked by fairness and our care for one another.
  • We should elect leaders from throughout our Conference who will effectively and faithfully serve the mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.


GUIDELINES FOR THE CONFERENCE ELECTION TEAM
The task of the Election Team is to assist the West Ohio Conference to conduct the election of General and Jurisdictional Conference delegates according to guidelines based on our common values, as follows:

  1. We respect each other as brothers and sisters in Christ. No other “label” is needed!
  2. In our speaking and in our listening, we seek to discern God’s will.
  3. Personal attacks and inflammatory language are not acceptable.
  4. Honest engagement of issues is always acceptable. Unity is not the same as uniformity!
  5. Special care will be taken to encourage the candidacy of qualified persons broadly representative of the diversity of the Conference.
  6. Election materials circulated in print or electronically will be monitored as follows:
    • The source must be identified.
    • Materials negative to any candidate are not permissible.
    • Materials are to display a candidate’s positions and qualifications in a positive manner.
  7. Efforts to persuade are appropriate but attempts at manipulation are not. This applies equally to circulated materials and nominating speeches.
  8. Recommendations of all groups following the guidelines will be made available to Conference members fairly and equally.
  9. Balloting will be done in such manner and at such a pace as to promote our corporate discernment of God’s will.
  10.  The Bishop is encouraged immediately to rule out of order any actions contrary to these guidelines.


ON CHOOSING DELEGATES
What characterizes an excellent member of West Ohio’s delegation to the General and Jurisdictional Conferences? The Book of Discipline lays down basic requirements in ¶ 502:

  • Clergy members of West Ohio elect, as delegates, full-member Elders and Deacons, whether active or in a retired relationship who are committed to the United Methodist Church.
  • Lay members of West Ohio elect lay delegates who...
    • Are members of local congregations in West Ohio;
    • Have been active participants in The United Methodist Church for at least four years;
    • Are committed to the mission of The United Methodist Church; and
    • Have been professing members of The United Methodist Church for at least two years.


These required minimums imply that clergy and lay candidates for General and Jurisdictional Conferences are persons who have stood the test of faithfulness to The United Methodist Church and who continue to be loyal members, upholding the Church by their prayers, presence, gifts and service. It is also understood that delegates must be in sufficiently good health and have energy and commitment to put in long hours, not only at the sessions of the General and Jurisdictional Conferences, but also prior to the sessions. The delegation will hold a number of meetings before the Conferences, and preparation for General Conference in particular requires reading mountains of reports and materials. Candidates need an awareness of United Methodist history and doctrine, and a basic grasp of our polity and discipline.

Beyond this, what do we seek in those we elect to our delegation? First of all, we look to persons who have chosen Jesus Christ as the only Lord of their life— those who have been able to set self aside and let Jesus reign. Such individuals enjoy a personal, moment-by-moment relationship with the living Christ.

We seek candidates who understand the worth of all persons and are willing to listen to their brothers and sisters who cry out for justice. Furthermore, delegates must think globally and be committed to the mission of The United Methodist Church; We are a global Church, and our decisions have a global impact.

We trust that our delegates will be persons of integrity. They will sit in the councils of the Church, listen to all sides, and state their own convictions in a straightforward manner. They will vote their conscience, and they will consistently try to discern God’s will when they vote on proposals and for aspirants to General Church offices such as the episcopacy, the judicial council, and others.

Thus, using all of their best information and judgment, with fervent prayer, our delegates will cast their votes, as they believe God wills. The Wesleyan Quadrilateral will guide their discernment of the Lord’s will: Scripture, Tradition, Experience and Reason. A decision will not be based upon labels such as “progressive,” “reactionary,” “liberal,” or “conservative,” but upon their answers to these simple questions:
    - Is it right?
    - Is it just?
    - Is it wise?
    - Is it possible?
    - Above all, does it honor God?

The West Ohio Conference is blessed with rich diversity, including a variety of theological interpretations. Given the marks of excellence outlined here, it is also important to us and to the general Church that, insofar as possible, we elect delegates who will share the blessings of urban, suburban and rural roots; the traditions of lakes, plains and Appalachian hill country; a beautiful tapestry of ethnic church experiences; both female and male perspectives; the energy of youth, the inquiry of young adults, the commitment of adults and the wisdom of age.

In our diversity there is unity: We are one people, especially in the prayers surrounding this elective process.