On Tuesday, the UMC (United Methodist Church) announced the dates for their General Conference. The conference will be held at its usual location -the Minneapolis Convention Center in Minneapolis from August 29 to September 7, 2021.
The conference was expected to resolve longtime debate around LGBTQ inclusion but the date being set to the start of the academic year only troubled the young adult age groups who were expected to voice their opinions upon the long-awaited topic.
Commission Chair Kim Simpson expressed regret for the date falling at the start of a typical academic year, unintentionally discouraging young adults to attend and voice their opinions.
"Including young adults in the General Conference is always an important consideration. We affirm that their voices need to be heard," Simpson stated.
Young adult delegates who requested to select different dates for the General Conference expressed to the UMC commission that the announced summer schedule could deprive the right to vote for young adult delegates.
If in the case that an alternative date is not accommodated, young adult delegates requested the UMC commission to provide other options like virtual voting to be able to participate fully.
"Unfortunately, this request did not come to the Commission until late in the process. By that time, the available dates were secured and any attempt to change the dates would endanger the carrying forward of the deposits to the newly agreed-upon dates," Simpson stated.
Simpson stated that a date revision would possibly push the event to 2022 which would ultimately affect the overall operations of the United Methodist Church.
"Pushing it to 2022 affects budgets, jurisdictional conferences, central conferences, the election of bishops, bishops' retirement dates, terms of office of general agency boards and elected denominational leadership, and more," the commission stated.
"I am deeply troubled by the statement in the announcement that places the burden for action on the young people and implies that we spoke up too late in the process for our requests to be viable," Vittorio, a young adult delegate stated.
The United Methodist Church is a worldwide mainline Protestant denomination that holds a General Conference every 4 years; typically in late spring at the end of the academic year with the latest conference being held in 2016. The succeeding conference was anticipated to be held in 2020 only to be postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.