Translation for commission's final report expected by July 30

Maidstone Mulenga


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.

Bishops amend call for 2019 special session

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Council of Bishops (COB) has amended its call for the Special Session of the General Conference of The United Methodist Church (UMC) to be conducted Feb. 23-26, 2019 in St. Louis in response to Judicial Council Decision 1360, which was handed down on May 25.

The amended call issued by COB President Kenneth H. Carter notes that “The purpose of this Special Session of the General Conference shall be limited to receiving and acting upon a report from the Commission on a Way Forward based upon recommendations of the Council of the Bishops.”

In the original call issued in April last year, the bishops stated that the purpose of the 2019 Special Session of the General Conference is to be “limited to receiving and acting on a report from the Council of Bishops based on the recommendations of the Commission on a Way Forward.”

Bishop Carter said the amended call in response to the Judicial Council decision is made “out of a great sense of caution and the desire to help delegates to the Special Session of General Conference 2019 do their best work.”  The amended call is consistent with the Council of Bishops’ collaboration with the Commission on a Way Forward over the past two years, in response to the church’s request for leadership by the 2016 General Conference.  Communication of the amended call is being shared by the General Commission on the General Conference through the heads of delegations and annual conference secretaries.

“The Council of Bishops encourages the entire church in this season to hear the words of the apostle Paul in Ephesians 4:3, that we ‘make every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace’,” said Bishop Carter in announcing the amended call.
Read the letter sent to the heads of delegations, conference secretaries, secretary of the General Conference and the chairperson of the Commission on the General Conference.

The Rev. Dr. Maidstone Mulenga is communications director of the Council of Bishops.

Related Videos