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After a four-year delay, the 2020 General Conference of the United Methodist Church will take place April 23rd - May 3rd, 2024, in Charlotte, NC.

As stated in a UM News explanation of General Conference, “The United Methodist Church has no pope. But it does have a General Conference — the only body that can set official policy and speak for the international denomination.  General Conference brings together lay and clergy delegates from four continents whose decisions will affect how millions of United Methodists do church for years to come."

General Conference typically gathers every four years. General Conference was scheduled to meet in 2020. However, the global COVID pandemic resulted in multiple postponements of the 2020 General Conference. When the General Conference meets this April, it will have been eight years since our primary denominational governing body came together. Since the last meeting in 2016, the denomination has seen a quarter of its U.S. churches depart under a disaffiliation policy that began in 2019 and expired at the end of 2023. 

General Conference 2024 will determine what happens next in the United Methodist Church.

In order to prepare our Aldersgate UMC family for the Town Hall meeting that will occur on May 19th following the 2024 General Conference, we are providing information and links to resources that have been compiled and vetted by the pastors, staff, and Equip ministries team. The following are resources that we believe provide accurate information about the upcoming General Conference.

The Northern Virginia District invites you to pray for the upcoming General Conference. Each day from April 1- May 5 we offer the name of a person or persons (beginning with each VAUMC delegate) as well as a theme or idea to help focus your prayers.

Post General Conference Panel Discussion

The Virginia Conference held a post-General Conference Zoom webinar on Thursday, May 9th, at 7pm. The panel included Bishop Sue Haupert-Johnson; Rev. Lindsey Baynham Freeman, head of the Virginia delegation; and delegates Rev. Mark Ogren, Marshall Bailey, and Rev. Dr. Jonathan Page. You can watch the webinar on the Virginia Conference YouTube Channel.

Due to the large volume of questions received during the webinar, a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) was created by the Virginia Conference Connectional Ministries Office.

It is important to note that the deadline for disaffiliation has passed. Aldersgate UMC will not be considering disaffiliation in our Town Hall meeting. At this time, there is nothing to vote or decide upon regarding Aldersgate UMC's status until more information is received after General Conference.

April 14th, 21st, & 28th: We will offer a three-part sermon series on John Wesley's "Three Simple Rules". We invite you to read the book (available on Amazon and Cokesbury) and follow along in prayer.

April 17th: Clergy pre-brief for General Conference offered by our district leadership. Pastor Randy and Pastor Jon will participate in this.

April 23 – May 3, 2024: The 2024 General Conference (also still being called the “2020 General Conference”) will take place in Charlotte, NC, to further discuss and vote on plans to address the issues under debate for the past eight years. 

May 8th: Following General Conference, there will be a debrief for all laity and clergy. This will be held via Zoom. Information on how to participate in this will be provided to the congregation when we receive it.

May 19th: We will hold a Town Hall at to discuss what is next for Aldersgate UMC following the 2024 General Conference. More information on this Town Hall meeting will be provided as it comes together. This will be open to the entire congregation.

May 2016:  Divisions among delegates at the 2016 General Conference were apparent in regard to church teachings on marriage and human sexuality.  A plan was approved to table all legislative action on human sexuality.  The Council of Bishops was empowered to form a commission to study the divisions in the denomination and to come up with a plan.


2017 – 2018:  Three plans emerged from the Commission on the Way Forward.  The Connectional Conference Plan recommended re-organizing the church into two separate but connected entities.  The One Church Plan (endorsed by the Council of Bishops) would allow conferences, clergy, and local churches to make their own decisions on same-sex marriage.  The Traditional Plan recommended keeping all of the current language in the Book of Discipline and enforcing disciplinary actions such as removing openly gay clergy from their churches.


February 2019:  A Special Session of the General Conference was held to vote on the plans from the Commission on the Way Forward.  The Traditional Plan was passed with amendments made and voted upon at the Special Session of the General Conference.

Summer 2019:  Following the decision of the 2019 Special Session of the General Conference, a number of Conferences in the United States passed resolutions against the Traditional Plan. A 12-person group of centrist, traditionalist, and progressive church leaders drafted a plan for the amicable split of the United Methodist Church denomination that would provide a future for the denomination, its local churches, and its clergy. This plan addressed issues such as ownership of church property, pastoral pension plans, etc. It was to be discussed at the 2020 General Conference.

January 2020: A group of 16 United Methodist bishops and church leaders offered a proposal that would allow traditionalist-minded congregations to form a new denomination; this plan included provisions for funding and allowed local congregations who disaffiliated to keep their local church property. 

March 2020:  The pandemic caused the 2020 General Conference to be delayed – first until 2021, then until August/September 2022, then until April 2024. 

March 2022:  The formation of the Global Methodist Church was announced, allowing adherents of the Traditional Plan to disaffiliate from the United Methodist Church to join the Global Methodist Church.


December 31, 2023:  This was the last day that churches were allowed to disaffiliate from the United Methodist Church. 

April 23 – May 3, 2024: The 2024 General Conference (also still being called the “2020 General Conference”) will take place in Charlotte, NC, to further discuss and vote on plans to address the issues under debate for the past eight years. 

What is General Conference and what does it do? Watch this quick overview of the General Conference from the United Methodist Communications team and find out how it serves the United Methodist Church. You can find additional resources to learn more about General Conference in this "beginner's guide" to General Conference put out by UM News.

Here are some additional helpful resources to learn more about General Conference:

Document published by the Virginia Annual Conference that describes the Christmas Covenant and the Regionalization Plan that may be voted on at the 2024 General Conference:

This article will provide additional information on what "disaffiliation" is. It is important to note that the deadline for disaffiliation has passed. Aldersgate UMC will not be considering disaffiliation in our Town Hall meeting.

Watch a panel discussion that took place at Floris UMC in Herndon, VA, on February 6th, 2024, about preparations and legislation related to the 2024 General Conference.

Disclaimer: The panelists have similar viewpoints to one another in regard to the issues they are discussing, so it is somewhat less objective than other resources. However, there is an excellent description of the history of the contentious issues that may be addressed at the 2024 General Conference. Also, there is a lovely statement by our Bishop regarding the working of the Holy Spirit in us as we work together.

Pastor Adam Hamilton moderates a panel of pastors who have started new churches in areas with disaffiliating churches. There is also a discussion with a pastor from a church in Africa about the issues faced by UMC churches in African countries.

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