It is interesting being at Annual Conference and not being able to vote on General Conference delegates. This issue had not previously occurred to me, because I hadn’t thought about it. But now that I am here, it is a weird feeling. In case you don’t know what I am talking about, every four years annual conferences throughout Methodism elect lay and clergy delegates to represent their conference at General Conference, which is the official voice of the United Methodist Church. Lay members of Annual Conference vote for lay delegates. Clergy members of Annual Conference vote for clergy delegates. The catch is that probationary members and local pastors are not members of Annual Conference. Therefore, they have no voice in who represents the church and they also cannot be elected to go to General Conference.
Why can’t people who are pastoring churches vote on General Conference delegates? We are the only group of people who officially have no say in the future of the church, at least for the next 4 years. This year it has really felt like probationers and local pastors are second class citizens. It it hard for me to understand why retired ministers have more of a say in the future of the church than do the pastors who are struggling along the road to ordination and are literally the future of the church.
I would love to hear your thoughts about this or your explanation of why this is an important policy.