Tampa, not Richmond, to host 2012 General
Feb. 17, 2006
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — The United Methodist Church’s top legislative assembly
won’t be meeting in Richmond, Va., in 2012, as announced last fall, but will
convene in Tampa, Fla., instead.
In making the change, the United Methodist Commission on the General Conference
cited a church policy regarding meeting in cities that are home to professional
sports teams with Native American names.
The 2012 General Conference will be held April 25 to May 4 in the
600,000-square-foot Tampa Convention Center.
At the time of the initial selection, commission members were unaware that
Richmond is home to the Richmond Braves, a minor league baseball team affiliated
with the Atlanta Braves.
The General Conference meets every four years to set policy for the church and
adopt or renew resolutions on hundreds of issues and concerns. It draws nearly
1,000 delegates from around the world. The 2004 conference was held in
Pittsburgh, and the 2008 gathering will be in Fort Worth, Texas.
A resolution passed by the 2004 General Conference called for United Methodist
agencies and organizations to avoid holding meetings and events in cities that
sponsor sport teams using Native America names and symbols. “The United
Methodist Church rejects the use of Native American names and symbols for sport
teams, and considers the practice a blatant expression of racism,” the assembly
“We reviewed many issues when considering the finalists, but the name of the
minor league sports team never came up in our discussions,” said Gail Murphy-Geiss
of Centennial, Colo., chairperson of the Commission on the General Conference.
“We had earlier eliminated Atlanta from consideration because it was home to the
major league baseball team, the Braves.
“When the minor league Braves issue was quickly brought to our attention after
the original announcement, we believed we were obligated to revisit the issue.
|A UMNS file photo by John Goodwin
Participants at the 2004 General Conference gather in worship in Pittsburgh.
“We are sad for the great United Methodists in Virginia who were excited about
hosting the General Conference but are pleased to take a strong stance against
teams with offensive names. However well intended, sports teams named after
Native Americans demean the heritage of native peoples. They perpetuate
unhealthy and unfair stereotypes.”
Murphy-Geiss said the commission is working with the Rev. Alan Morrison, the
business manager of the General Conference, to develop detailed written
procedures and policies to help the commission consider future sites of the
General Conference, including reviews of cities’ major and minor professional
sports team names.
Tampa was a finalist in the original search process for the 2012 General
Conference. When the commission reopened its search, negotiations resulted in
Tampa offering the strongest proposal, Murphy-Geiss said.
In addition to the 1,000 or so delegates, the 10-day gathering is expected to
attract about 4,000 other people to the Tampa area and will generate about $20
million in anticipated direct spending.
Tampa is part of the
Florida Annual (regional) Conference, which is third in membership size, behind
Virginia and North Georgia. It has 728 local churches and a total membership of
more than 329,000.
*This report was adapted from a press release by the Public Information Office
at United Methodist Communications.
News media contact: Tim Tanton, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or
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