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Michigan delegates arrive in Portland

The official opening of the 2016 General Conference is now only hours away.

United Methodists from around the world, including delegates elected by the United Methodists in the Detroit and West Michigan Annual Conferences, are gathering at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland.

The 2016 United Methodist General Conference will be in session May 10-20.

Michigan delegates, led by Nichea Ver Veer Guy (WMC) and the Rev. Charles Boayue (DC) will help determine the denomination’s future direction, consider revisions to church law, and approve plans and budgets for church-wide programs.

During the 11-day session, which includes worship and moments of celebration, 864 delegates will consider approximately 1,000 legislative petitions.

More than 2,500 visitors are expected for the duration of General Conference, with 1,000 Portland-area volunteers supporting the event.

“We as the Greater Northwest Local Host Committee have only one objective: ‘Provide extraordinary hospitality,'” said Bishop Grant Hagiya of the Greater Northwest Episcopal Area. “It is our hope and prayer to welcome everyone with a sense of uniqueness and individual hospitality. What we have become aware of is when you have only one objective or goal, it makes everything so much easier in terms of competing priorities.”

Three travelers from Michigan–Ruby Anderson, Mark Doyal and Kay DeMoss–experienced that hospitality reaching out hundreds of miles from the site of General Conference. In the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport a woman overheard their conversation and approached Ruby, Mark and Kay saying, “I am a Lutheran heading home to Portland. I just want to be the first to greet you and wish you well at your general meeting!”

General Conference 2016 will open at 2 p.m., Tuesday, May 10, with a worship celebration that will include Holy Communion. Preaching will be Bishop Warner H. Brown, Jr. of the San Francisco area and president of the Council of Bishops.

Delegates will spend much of the week in legislative sessions considering and moving forward (or not) the hundreds of petitions for General Conference action next week.

Other highlights during early days of conference … Bishop Gregory Palmer of the West Ohio Area will deliver the Episcopal Address during a plenary session beginning at 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday, May 11, followed later in the week by the Laity Address on May 13 and Young People’s Address on May 14. Chelsea Spyres, a Global Mission Fellow serving at the NOAH Project in Detroit, is one of two presenters of the Young People’s Address.

A celebration of the denomination’s Imagine No Malaria campaign, a $75 million fundraising effort to eliminate deaths from the disease in sub-Saharan Africa, will take place on May 18 at 9:00 a.m. and will feature a performance by Jeremy Rosado of American Idol fame. The Michigan Area can rejoice in the $1.6 million contribution they made to this life-changing effort.

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