Record number of clergywomen delegates to attend '04 assembly
7/10/2003 News media contact: Tim Tanton · (615) 742-5470 · Nashville, Tenn.
This report may be used with UMNS story #356.
A UMNS Report
By J. Richard Peck*
The percentage of clergywomen at the General Conference of
the United Methodist Church will continue to rise following the election
of delegates to the 2004 assembly in Pittsburgh.
A record 34
percent of the 400 clergy delegates from the United States will be
women. This figure compares with a recent report that 18.5 percent of
all active United Methodist clergy are women.
News Service analyzed data on the delegates to develop a profile of the
church's top lawmaking assembly in terms of diversity, first-time
participants and other characteristics. The research was based on
reports filed by the U.S. annual conferences as well as additional
information provided by conference communicators.
At the 2000
gathering, 27.8 percent of clergy delegates from the states were female.
That compares with 22.5 percent in 1996; 18 percent in 1992; 15 percent
in 1988; and 8.9 percent in 1984.
The percentage of laywomen
delegates from the United States will remain at 51.1 percent, a figure
that is identical to the 2000 report. In 1996, 52 percent of the lay
delegates were women, and in 1996, the figure was 53.1 percent.
percentage estimate for the 2004 meeting is based on reports of 787 of
the 800 delegates to be seated at the quadrennial meeting set for April
27-May 7. Percentages from earlier General Conferences are based on
surveys by the General Council on Ministries.
Eight hundred of
the 994 voting and nonvoting delegates to the 2004 General Conference
will be from the United States. A total of 184 delegates will be from
other countries, and an additional 10 fraternal delegates - with voice
but not vote - will attend from other Methodist denominations around the
world. The number of non-U.S. delegates is up 32 from the 2000 General
Conference because of an increased number of judicatories and church
members while a number of United States annual conferences have merged
and overall membership has declined.
Annual conferences from the
North Central Jurisdiction will have 164 delegates, down 18;
Northeastern Jurisdiction, 144 delegates, down 18; South Central, 170
delegates, up 10; Southeastern, 278, up eight; and Western, 44, down 12.
The number of fraternal delegates will remain the same as last
quadrennium: Methodist churches in Great Britain, four; the Caribbean
and the Americas, two; Mexico, two; and Puerto Rico, two.
delegates to the quadrennial assembly are well aware of how quickly
they need to act in order to wade through more than 2,000 different
proposals filed by some 12,000 groups and individuals. New delegates are
tempted to linger over complex or controversial proposals and will
frequently want to extend debate.
An estimated 42.6 percent of
the U.S. delegates will be attending their first General Conference.
That figure is based on a comparison of people elected to the 2000
meeting with the 787 delegates reported to date. It should be noted that
some of these people may have attended previous General Conferences or
served as alternates to the 2000 meeting. Certainly many of them have
been delegates to jurisdictional conferences.
According to a GCOM
survey, 38 percent of the delegates in 2000 were first-timers. That
figure compares with 43.7 percent in 1996, 42.5 percent in 1992 and 33.8
percent in 1988.
Youth in attendance
delegate, based on responses received from conference communicators,
appears to be Ryan Bostdorf, 14, of Central Pennsylvania.
least two 15-year-olds will be seated in the Pittsburgh assembly:
Allison Mitchell, a high school student in the Florida Annual
Conference, and John F. Howard, a high school student in the Western
North Carolina Annual Conference delegation. Howard will be joined in
that delegation by Courtney L. Russ, 18, and Matthew T. Sink, 18, both
recent high school graduates. Sink was a certified lay speaker at age
The East Ohio Annual Conference will have two delegates
under 19 years of age: Phillip Kerlin, 18, and Matthew Laferty, 17. They
will be joined by Stephen Yoost, 22, in the 20-member delegation.
young delegates include; Kathy Connolly, 16, West Ohio Annual
Conference; Jonathon Riss, 16, New York Conference; Morenike Irving, 18,
Mississippi Conference; Ben Adams, 17, North Carolina Conference; Beth
Randall, 17, South Georgia Conference; and Joel Pier-Fitzgerald, 17,
West Michigan Conference.
With detailed reports on 540 delegates,
there are 17 people under age 18 (3.1 percent) and a total of 37
delegates under age 30 (6.6 percent). Last quadrennium, 3.09 percent of
the delegates were under age 30 (6.5 percent of laity and 0 percent of
At least four delegates will
be attending their eighth General Conference. They are Joetta Rinehart, a
development director based at Lake Junaluska, N.C., with the Western
North Carolina Conference; the Rev. F. Belton Joyner, a retired
clergyman with the North Carolina Annual Conference - the first retired
clergyman to be elected from that conference; the Rev. Minerva Carcano
from Oregon-Idaho, who represented the Rio Grande Conference at earlier
assemblies; and J. Taylor Philips, a Georgia state judge, who will join
the South Georgia delegation.
Rhoda Peters, a Kentucky Conference
clergywoman, and James Logan, a Virginia Annual Conference clergy
delegate and professor at Wesley Seminary, will be attending their
The New York Conference will send an experienced
delegation as five members of that 14-member group will be attending
their sixth national gathering: the Rev. Randy Nugent, the Rev. Jane
Middleton, Ernest Swiggett, Shirley Parris and Beth Capen.
delegates planning to attend their sixth General Conference include: the
Rev. David Wilson (Arkansas); the Rev. Marcus Matthews
(Baltimore-Washington); the Rev. Philip Brooks (West Ohio Annual
Conference); and Phillip Connolly (West Ohio).
Deacons and ethnic minorities
With detailed reports on 540 delegates, there are nine deacons and five diaconal ministers.
delegates are African American (16.6 percent); 20 are Asian American
(3.7 percent); 21 are Hispanic American (3.9 percent); and seven are
Native American (1.4 percent). Two are Haitian Americans, and one is an
East Indian American. In 2000, 12.4 percent of the delegates were
African American; 3 percent were Asian American; 2.2 percent, Hispanic
American; and 0.93, Native American.
Annual Conference made history when it elected its first Hispanic
clergywoman as a member of the delegation. That conference also
nominated the Rev. Liana Perez-Felix for the episcopacy.
reported that it elected its first African-American clergywoman in its
160-year history. The Rev. Celestyne DeVance will occupy that position.
elected Dr. Bill Scurlock, a surgeon who has participated in several
mission trips and once conducted surgery by the headlights of a truck.
delegations elected a high percentage of cabinet members or annual
conference staff members. Western North Carolina, for example, elected
seven clergy and one layperson who are superintendents or members of the
conference staff. Fifteen of the 24 are women.
reports that 10 of the 11 lay delegates were elected on the first
ballot, a new record. That conference also reports that for the first
time a clergywoman was elected on the first ballot. The Rev. Hope Morgan
Ward holds that distinction. It took 17 ballots to complete the clergy
delegation to General and jurisdictional conferences.
Carcano will be Oregon-Idaho's first Hispanic delegate.
unusual for clergy to elect an entirely new slate of delegates, but
Nebraska will be sending four clergy delegates who were not members of
the 2000 delegation. Three of the four lay delegates served in the 2000
Alaska Missionary Annual Conference has only two
delegates, but it reports that it elected its first clergywoman and its
first male lay delegate.
North Central New York Annual Conference
elected a woman who has only been a United Methodist since 1992. Sharon
Bassett, wife of a United Methodist pastor and the conference lay
leader since 2000, was elected on the first ballot.
All in the family
every General Conference provides the opportunity for a couple of
family members to spend 10 days at the site of General Conference.
quadrennium, the Rev. Timothy Riss will join his 16-year-old son,
Jonathon, as members of the New York Annual Conference delegation.
Missouri will send another father-son team. The Rev. Brent Mustoe will be accompanied by his son, Adam.
brothers from Mississippi will sit at the same table in Pittsburgh. The
Rev. Bill McAlilly, pastor of First United Methodist Church in Tupelo,
will be joined by his brother, Steve McAlilly, a member of the same
The delegation from West Michigan Annual Conference will
include a mother-son team. The Rev. Lynn Pier-Fitzgerald, a district
superintendent in the conference, will be sitting near her 17-year-old
son, Joel, a high school junior. Last quadrennium, Lynn was accompanied
by her daughter Erin, also a student.
From the Detroit Conference, the Rev. Terry Euper, assistant to the bishop, will be joined by his wife, Jackie, a lay delegate.
will send the Rev. Barrie Tritle, a district superintendent, and his
wife, Kae, a diaconal minister. Sitting with the same delegation will be
Inez Dawes, mother of fellow delegate Jessica Ireland.
Jones will join his father, the Rev. Scott Jones, in the North Texas
delegation. Arthur, a member of the churchwide Board of Discipleship,
was elected on his 19th birthday. His father occupies the McCreless
Chair of Evangelism at Perkins School of Theology in Dallas. In the same
delegation, Mary Brook Casad, a laywoman attending her fifth General
Conference, is the sister of the Rev. Clayton Oliphint, pastor of First
Church in Richardson, Texas, a delegate to the South Central
The Rev. Albert Shuler, Elizabeth
City district superintendent, is a delegate from the North Carolina
Conference; his wife, Dr. Jimmie Shuler, a physician, is a member of the
lay jurisdictional delegation.
West Ohio will send a father and
daughter and a husband and wife to Pittsburgh. Phillip Connolly, a
contractor, will be joined by his daughter, Kathy Connolly, and Kathy's
brother, Michael Connolly, is the first lay reserve for that conference.
The Rev. Philip Brooks and the Rev. Gloria Brooks, a clergy couple,
will join the Connollys.
Another clergy couple, the Rev. Thomas
A. and the Rev. Sally O. Langford, will represent the Western North
Carolina Annual Conference. Josefa Bethea, daughter of the late Bishop
Joseph Bethea, will serve as a lay delegate from that conference.
brother-sister team of Haitian-Americans will sit with the Florida
delegation. The Rev. Jacques E. Pierre will be joined by his sister,
One of the lay
delegates from the Baltimore-Washington Annual Conference will be well
known to most of the delegates from the United States. Mike McCurry,
former press secretary for President William Clinton, will be part of
the lay delegation from that conference. He said he didn't know how
difficult politics could be until he became the Sunday school
superintendent for St. Paul's United Methodist Church in Kensington, Md.
The Rev. Rebekah L. Miles, a clergy delegate from the Arkansas
Conference and assistant professor of ethics at Perkins School of
Theology, is the daughter of former clergy delegate the Rev. John P.
Miles, who will be remembered for offering colorful ways to end debate
at many General Conferences. "It's time to call the cattle home," he'd
say. Or: "This kettle of fish is cooked." Each time, he would find a
more colorful way to get the assembly to vote instead of continuing an
Other well-known delegates include Bill
Scott, chair of the Bio-Ethics Committee of the churchwide Board of
Church and Society (Mississippi Conference); David Beckley, president of
Rust College (Mississippi); Gloria Holt, president of the United
Methodist Association of Annual Conference Lay Leaders and person named
to deliver the Laity Address (North Alabama); Heather Elkins, professor
at Drew University (West Virginia); Peggy Johnson, national leader in
deaf ministry (Baltimore-Washington); the Rev. Frank Trotter, pastor of
"the nation's church" Metropolitan United Methodist Church in
Washington; the Rev. Maxie Dunnam, president of Asbury Seminary; the
Rev. Myron McCoy, senior pastor of St. Mark United Methodist Church in
Chicago at the time of his election, and now president of Saint Paul
School of Theology in Kansas City, Mo. (Northern Illinois).
top executives of United Methodist general agencies were elected to
serve as delegates: the Rev. Karen Greenwaldt, (Central Texas), Board of
Discipleship; the Rev. Joseph L. Harris (Oklahoma), Commission on
United Methodist Men; the Rev. Chester R. Jones (Arkansas), Commission
on Religion and Race; the Rev. Charles Yrigoyen Jr. (Eastern
Pennsylvania), Commission on Archives and History; and the Rev. Randy
Day (New York), Board of Global Ministries.
The Rev. Randy
Nugent, former top staff executive of the Board of Global Ministries
(New York), and the Rev. Thom White Wolf Fassett, former general
secretary for the Board of Church and Society (North Central New York),
were also elected.
# # #
* A retired clergy member of the New York
Annual Conference, Peck is a four-time editor of the Daily Christian
Advocate for General Conference and editor of the 2000 United Methodist
Book of Resolutions.
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