Effect of the local pastor vote

I’ve picked up in a couple of different places and from a couple of different directions an interesting story line from annual conference season.

This is the first time any local pastors have been allowed to vote for General Conference delegates. I’ve heard talk in at least three annual conferences that local pastor voting is part of the reason for conservative slates doing well. (I’m not listing conferences because these “stories” I’m reading are not what I would call well sourced. They may be more speculation than fact.)

What observations do others have out there?

Did many local pastors vote in your annual conference? Do you think it made a difference in the outcomes?


9 thoughts on “Effect of the local pastor vote

  1. Strangely enough for Greater New Jersey, we went from (I believe) a 3-2 split in favor of changing our ordination standards in 2008 to a 5-0 sweep in favor of change for 2012.

    Last year, we had 709 elders and deacons in full connection and 116 local pastors. I don’t know how many LPs got the lime green (no vote) versus kelly green (voting). But, only a high of 353 votes were cast on any of the 15 ballots that were cast to elect five GC, five JC and three alternates.

  2. In West Virginia, our GC delegation is 4 DS’s plus a very conservative woman (heads the Conf. Evangelism team). I know a lot of LPs who feel like they have to bend over backwards to stay on the right side of the DS (as a way of preserving their jobs).

  3. I don’t believe licensed local pastors can vote currently in the Western North Carolina Conference. I am not aware of any who voted at Annual Conference this year. My wife waited on commissioning so as a local pastor she didn’t vote this year.

  4. I was not allowed to vote as a Local Pastor. I was invited to the dance, and then told to go sit in the corner. During the Annual Conference “The Love of God” was preached, as it was for all, but I came away with the feeling “Only if you fulfill certain requirement! Is this the kind of message the “church” wants to send. I don’t believe it is the message our God wants.The church has become a political hotbed where many feel left out, and the church wonders why people are drifting away We are saved by Faith not what we have done in this life, and this prejudice must stop
    In the Illinois Great Rivers Conference they have coined the term “Claity” which is a union of the clergy and laity working together in the mission of Christ, but guess where I fit in that plan… nowhere, because as a Local licensed Pastor, I am neither clergy or laity( I do not have voting rights as either).
    This may sound as if I am only commenting out of what I feel as wrong s I have felt, but in the grand scheme of things we are all the Body of Christ.

    1. Lee, I understand your feelings. As a once and future local pastor, I know the in-between existence of it all. You are not really considered a clergy member by many in the conference but you no longer are a lay member.

      The church certainly needs to be called to account where it does not live out the love it claims guides its life.

      For me, I don’t really view this as an issue of rights or being wronged in any way, though. I am called to serve and this is where God has placed me. Any time I start feeling some sense of personal indignation, I get out my copy of the Wesleyan Covenant prayer and remind myself where my focus should be.

  5. I guess I am confused – I thought a constitutional amendment passed that allowed local pastors to vote. Surely, since it is part of the constitution of the UMC now, different annual conferences cannot interpret it differently – if local pastors in one annual conference can vote, then all local pastors everywhere in the connection can vote. why the difference? Do you have to be full-time local pastor, or be through a certain number of course of study classes? I know I voted in favor of the amendment, but I have gotten fuzzy on the specifics of what it allowed for.

    1. Larry,

      The change allowed LLPs to vote only if:

      1) They are full time
      2) They have completed all five years of course of study or have an MDiv
      3) They have been serving full time for more than two full years

      1. Part-time LPs are eligible as well as long as they have been under appointment for two years and met the educational requirements.

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