The Commission on The United Methodist Church General Conference announced recently that it has chosen Portland, Ore., as the site for the 2016 General Conference. The United Methodist Church's top legislative body will meet at the Oregon Convention Center, May 10–20, 2016.
"I believe the Portland area will afford the General Conference a fine experience in West Coast hospitality," said Bishop Robert Hoshibata of the Portland Episcopal Area. "We will do all we can to make it a warm and welcoming place where we can do the work of the church in an atmosphere of grace, as well as sharing the gifts of the Portland area with the wider United Methodist community."
The General Conference, which attracts about 6,000 attendees, is held every four years. The 2008 conference was in Fort Worth, Texas, and the 2012 conference will be conducted in Tampa, Fla. The conference site traditionally has rotated among the church's five geographic U.S. jurisdictions, with the 2016 event to be held in the Western jurisdiction. The last General Conference in the Western Jurisdiction was in Denver in 1996.
Requests for proposal were submitted to 16 sites in the Western jurisdiction, according to a press release. Portland was one of five finalists; the others were Seattle; and San Jose, Los Angeles, and Long Beach, Calif. A number of factors were considered in the selection of a meeting site, including: suitability of facilities; adequate meeting space; proximity of hotel rooms; cost of lodging, meals, airfare, meeting space; and sales and room taxes.
Dr. Randall Miller, chairman of the Commission on the General Conference, said Portland's hospitality and its "greenness" added to the city's appeal.
"Portland not only has a commitment to recycling, but also to green energy," Miller said. "A lot of the buildings have been designed to take advantage of green energy sources, and the way the city is structured in terms of transportation minimizes the use of cars. In many ways, Portland conforms with the values we have in The United Methodist Church about being wise stewards of God's resources."
Delegates from the United States, Africa, Europe, and Asia will attend the gathering. The economic impact of the event on the Portland area is estimated to be about $7 million.
Portland is a part of the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference, which has more than 32,000 members and 213 local churches.