Ben Witherington has posted an article explaining a bit about General Conference (which is meeting as I write this). He discusses some of the issues that will be addressed. Perhaps the most important issue is the proposal to create a central conference in the US. This proposal says that US concerns would be addressed in the US central conference. Is this important? yes. Why? Actually there are several reasons. Ben Witherington discusses, in my opinion, the most important one noting that the central conferences currently provide a balancing to the American church. He writes:
For another thing, they provide something of a theological and ethical balance to the American church which is too subject to the major cultural shifts in North America, often at the expense of the Gospel and the Bible’s teachings. We not only need the two-thirds worlds voices at General Conference, we need their wisdom and votes as well. In an age when our church, and indeed most major denominations, are becoming more culturally inclusive and global in character, it sends the wrong signal entirely to not allow the Central Conferences to continue to participate fully and vote quadrennially with the rest of our church.
If this goes through, I believe the face of American Methodism will drastically change. Many of the ‘hot issues’ of the American church are seen as unbiblical overseas. Without the overseas conferences, it is difficult knowing what will happen here in the U. S. The proposal discusses that “U. S. Concerns” will be dealt with in the U. S. central conference. I’ve always believed scripture and Christianity are globally focused. It seems to me that by moving in this direction we could allow our expression of Christianity to be more culturally defined than what it already is.