Three South Georgia Conference laity have been selected and elected to serve on the general church level of The United Methodist Church.
South Georgia Conference Chancellor Warren Plowden, a member of Vineville United Methodist Church in Macon, was elected as a lay alternate to The United Methodist Church’s Judicial Council, the denomination’s highest judicial body.
Two clergy, two laity, and six clergy and laity alternates were elected during General Conference’s Monday, April 30 proceedings. Composed of nine members who reflect the global diversity of The United Methodist Church, both clergy and laity serve on the Judicial Council – four of one, five of the other, alternating every eight years.
Plowden was nominated by the Council of Bishops in recognition of his exemplary service to the whole Church. As the Chancellor – an Annual Conference’s legal counsel – with the longest tenure of service, Plowden is well versed in all disciplinary matters that would come before the Judicial Council. In recognition of his expertise he has been called upon by other Chancellors and the General Church's Council to assist in numerous cases.
“I was quite surprised when Bishop King called me to ask if he could put my name in nomination as a member of the Judicial Council,” Plowden said. “I was even more surprised when I learned that I had actually been elected as an alternate member. It will be my pleasure to serve if I am ever called to sit in for one of the members.”
A partner since 1975 in one of Georgia’s oldest law firms, Jones Cork & Miller, LLP in Macon, Plowden specializes in employment, labor, personnel, and education matters, including litigation in these areas in the state and federal trial and appellate courts in such matters as civil rights damage suits, voting rights claims, employment discrimination cases, and numerous education related claims.
In addition to serving as Chancellor for the South Georgia Annual Conference, Plowden also serves as General Counsel for Wesleyan College and is outgoing president of the Conference’s Board of Trustees.
The Judicial Council determines the constitutionality of any act of the General Conference, proposed legislation, and shall “pass upon and affirm, modify, or reverse the decisions of law made by Bishops” among other duties and responsibilities.
The Judicial Council is required to review each decision on a point of law made by a bishop during an annual conference session. Other cases come from lower church courts, or from an official body of the church requesting a declaratory decision as to the legality of a particular action. There usually are several requests during General Conference for declaratory decisions.
Decisions are based on the Constitution of The United Methodist Church and on the specific paragraphs of the Book of Discipline cited in a case, but may refer to other relevant paragraphs. Conflicting paragraphs must be resolved before a decision is reached. The Discipline instructs the court not to go "further than is necessary to decide the question of church law involved."
Members are elected for eight-year terms by General Conference and may not serve on any other United Methodist Board or Agency beyond the Annual Conference. Members are limited as to two consecutive terms. The council elects its own president for a four-year term.
Laity elected to the Judicial Council are N. Oswald Tweh, Sr. and Beth Capen. Lay alternates are Sandra Lutz, Kurt Glassco, Randall Miller, Deanell Reece Tacha, W. Warren Plowden, Jr., and Reynaldo V. Abdon. Clergy elected to Judicial Council are J. Kabamba Kiboko and Dennis L. Blackwell. Clergy alternates are Timothy K. Bruster, John E. Harnish, Susan Henry-Crow, Oyvind Helliesen, Jane A. Tews, and Laura B. Easto.
Roberson to serve on Central Conference committee
The United Methodist Church has nearly 40,000 congregations in the United States, Africa, Europe and the Philippines. As of 2010, the denomination’s membership topped 12 million members worldwide.
However, the denomination’s U.S. membership has been declining for more than 40 years, even as the church in Africa and the Philippines has been growing. Today, about 7.8 million United Methodists live in the United States with the remaining 4.2 million hailing from Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Russia, Norway and more than 100 other countries around the world.
Amid this increasingly global church environment, United Methodists are exploring what it means to be in mission worldwide and how it should shape its organizational structure accordingly.
Kelly Roberson, Conference director of communications and member of The Chapel in Brunswick, was selected to serve on the Church’s Standing Committee on Central Conference Matters.
A standing committee of the 2012 General Conference, it serves as the coordinating body to study the structure and supervision of The United Methodist Church in its work outside the United States and its territories and relationships to other Church bodies. It handles issues related to episcopal areas, affiliation and autonomy, and joining The United Methodist Church. The General Board of Global Ministries is the facilitating agency for the standing committee.
The standing committee is composed of one bishop, one ordained minister, and one layperson from each jurisdiction and each central conference who are delegates to the General Conference and named by the Council of Bishops. In addition, one bishop, one ordained minister, and one layperson who are members of the General Board of Global Ministries are named to the committee by the Council of Bishops.
Roberson, who was nominated by the Council of Bishops, will attend at least two committee meetings during the four-year period between sessions of the General Conference of The United Methodist Church.
“As a delegate to General Conference I witnessed firsthand the beauty of the global church,” Roberson said. “Though we are from different parts of the world, separated by differing cultures and language, we are the body of Christ with so many things in common.
“I’m both humbled and excited to serve on this committee as we explore what it means to be in mission worldwide and how that shapes our life together as the Church.”
Roberson’s 11 years of ministry, service and leadership in the South Georgia Conference have provided her with a deep love and understanding for The United Methodist Church, its people and its policies.
Bush elected member of GCFA
Kay Bush, a member of Bainbridge First United Methodist Church, was elected as a member of the General Council on Finance and Administration (GCFA) during the 2012 General Conference session in Tampa, Fla.
The General Council on Finance and Administration was created by the General Conference to perform defined responsibilities of review and oversight on behalf of the General Conference in relation to the other general agencies receiving general Church funds. It is amenable and accountable to the General Conference and reports to it. All monies contributed by a local church to any of the general funds of the Church and such other funds as may have been authorized by the General Conference are held in trust by the council and distributed only in support of the ministries of the respective funds.
In the spirit of earlier conversations during General Conference, the Council of Bishops nominated both a youth and young adult representative to the 2013-2016 committee, which the General Conference approved.
“We have young people rooted in faith all over the world who are capable of leading and mobilizing transformation. All of us who are deeply rooted in God can make transforming decisions to look beyond the next four years and work to advance the church for 20, 50, or more years,” said Joy Eva Algodon-Bohol, president of the National United Methodist Youth Fellowship in the Philippines, during her portion of the April 25 Young People's Address to the General Conference.
Bush, who was nominated by the Council of Bishops, is a 16 -year-old sophomore at Bainbridge High School, president of the Bainbridge First UMC youth group, and is the youth representative at the church’s monthly administrative team meetings.
“I’m really excited and this is a huge honor,” said Bush, the 2011 Thomasville District at-large lay delegate to Annual Conference. “I’m excited to represent the youth. This is a really big deal for me.”