NASHVILLE - The final report of the Commission on a Way Forward to the Special Session of the General Conference in 2019 will become available once it has been translated from English into the other three official languages of The United Methodist Church (French, Portuguese, and KiSwahili), anticipated by July 30.
"The Commission on the General Conference and the Council of Bishops join the whole church in the desire that everyone within the United Methodist family have access to these materials simultaneously and in adequate time for us to prepare ourselves for the decisions that will be considered at the special called session," said Bishop Thomas Bickerton, ex-officio member of the Commission on the General Conference representing the Council of Bishops.
Initially, it was expected that the report would be translated and ready for release by July 8 - 230 days before the opening of the Special Session, which is the deadline for the submission of petitions. However, delays in negotiating a contract for translation made that date unworkable.
The scope of the contract for translation for General Conference 2020 was expanded to include translation for the 2019 Special Session as well in an attempt to negotiate financial savings to minimize the unbudgeted expenditures of the called session. The delay was due in part to the impact of Judicial Council Decision 1360 in May 2018 which expanded the number of petitions that will be filed, and thus must also be translated. The Judicial Council ruled that additional petitions to the special session of the General Conference "may be filed by any organization, clergy member and lay member of The United Methodist Church as long as the business proposed to be transacted in such petition is in harmony with the purpose stated in the call." The scope of the 2019 portion of the contract had to be expanded and required significant updating before the bid and selection process could move forward.
“Combining the two contracts resulted in a significant cost savings to the general church, as well as providing a safeguard that the translations are verified for content accuracy by utilizing the translation company that would process all other General Conference materials using the approved United Methodist glossary,” said Sara Hotchkiss, business manager of the General Conference. A contract has been executed and the report has been submitted for translation.
Because of the unique nature of the special session and the expressed need for delegates and delegations to access the materials sooner than the Disciplinary requirement of 90 days in advance of the session, it was agreed that the Commission on a Way Forward and the Council of Bishops could receive the translated report files and post them publicly prior to the official distribution of the Advance Daily Christian Advocate.
Upon receipt of the translated files, they will be provided to the leadership of the Commission and the Council, who will be responsible for the release in all four languages. The precedent of submitters posting their reports and petitions online has been very common in recent years, but they have not always been provided in all four official languages.
"As a matter of equity throughout the international church, it was deemed important to ensure that the report become available in all four languages at the same time," said the Rev. Gary W. Graves, secretary of the General Conference. Graves said the translations are being expedited and are expected in three weeks instead of the normal six-week time frame for a document of this size and complexity.
The Commission on the General Conference and secretary, editor of the Daily Christian Advocate and business manager of the General Conference are responsible for the production of the Advance Daily Christian Advocate (ADCA), which is the official release of the materials to be used during the General Conference. In accordance with the rules and procedures of the General Conference, the valid petitions received prior to the submission deadline of July 8 will be processed and translated. The Advance Daily Christian Advocate (ADCA) will be sent to all delegates by the Disciplinary requirement of November 26, 2018, 90 days prior to the opening of the 2019 special session.