Q&A Get to Know Your Delegates

Date Posted: 3/26/2020



The first General Conference was held in 1792, and since then meetings have occurred every four years to reaffirm and revise rules, procedures and mission. United Methodists come from around the world to connect in worship, prayer and fellowship – and to perform important legislative work. While the 2020 General Conference has been postponed due to COVID-19,  18 delegates have been elected for the Texas Annual Conference and convene regularly to prepare for the event. Let’s meet a couple of our delegates:

Bryan Tullos has been a member of Christ Church in Sugar Land for about 30 years. He said he and his wife were initially drawn to the UMC, because they wanted their young preschoolers to belong to a neighborhood church, where friends from church would also be their classmates and neighbors. This will be his third term as an elected delegate from the Texas Annual Conference. He has also served twice as a Jurisdictional Delegate.
 
Q. How would you describe your job preparing for General Conference?
A. Preparation for Conference involves understanding the issues at hand, getting to know and appreciate the delegation members and gaining a feel for the constituency and their desires.
 
Q. What is your reaction to the Protocol of Reconciliation and Grace Through Separation?
A. The Protocol appears to be the most amicable solution to the diversion that we as Methodists find ourselves in. As presented, I found it an acceptable proposition.
 
Q. What do you think will be the future of the Church?
A. My hope and vision is that the church can separate and go forward being Christ's bride.
 
Elizabeth Duffin grew up at St. Luke’s UMC in Houston and was active in the church’s ministry.  After graduating from college, she moved to Utah as a US-2 missionary with the General Board of Global Ministries. While in Salt Lake City, she experienced a call to ministry and went to seminary at Duke Divinity School. She has been under appointment in the Texas Annual Conference since 2009 and currently serves as the Associate Director in the Center for Clergy Excellence. She worships most Sundays at Bellaire UMC but also enjoys visits to other congregations in the conference.
 
Q. Why did you want to throw your hat in to be elected as delegate for general conference?
A. I have long had an interest in the worldwide connection of the UMC and seek to serve God and the church in whatever ways I can. I think there is a lot of wisdom in all clergy submitting their names for consideration and letting the clergy delegates to annual conference vote from the pool of all eligible clergypersons.
 
Q. How would you describe your job preparing for General Conference?
A. This past weekend was the jurisdictional gathering for delegates in Oklahoma City. We interviewed Episcopal candidates and got a chance to gather with other delegates who will serve on our same legislative committees. Reading the legislation is obviously critically important as we prepare for General Conference.
 
Q. What is your reaction to the Protocol of Reconciliation and Grace Through Separation?
A. I’m encouraged that there is a commitment from people throughout the church to find a way to work together for our common good. There is obviously a lot that has to happen between now and May 15 for something to pass, but I am hopeful that the delegates coming to Minneapolis will have the same spirit to move us past our current impasse – whether that is the protocol or something else.
 
Q. What do you think will be the future of the Church?
A. I think the future is entirely in God’s hands, and while it may seem like the future is murky or unclear, God holds all things. 
 
Q. What gives you hope or makes you feel excited during this time?
A. I am incredibly encouraged that – despite what may look like chaos at the general church level – God is still moving and doing new things and calling new people to ministry. We had 24 candidates at our candidacy summit in January, and we have young people who will be interning around the annual conference this summer. These are signs of God’s continued presence with us.
 
Sue Sullivan is a member of FUMC-Jefferson and assigned to Shiloh UMC part-time as a Certified Lay Minister. She served the TAC as chair of the Commission on Small Membership Churches, the Committee for Spiritual Formation and the Board of Lait. She currently is on the South Central Jurisdiction Mission Council.
 
Q. Why did you want to throw your hat in to be elected as delegate for general conference?
A. After much prayer, I submitted my information for election to General Conference 2020. I was and am trusting that God will guide me in this journey. I previously served as a General Conference delegate in 2012 and 2016 and the Special GC of 2019. I have gained knowledge from these conferences and from meetings with our TAC delegation. In 2012, I served as secretary for the Local Church legislative committee and in 2016 as chair of the Committee on Courtesies and Privileges. Though stressful, God gave me peace and enabled me to focus on the tasks on hand. What inspired me? The nudge of the Holy Spirit and the encouragement from my husband.
 
Q. How would you describe your job preparing for General Conference?
A. Prayer is the foundation in preparing for General Conference 2020. I am thankful for the many prayers covering the entire delegation and for the outcome of General Conference. Serving as a delegate is a humbling experience. The Texas Annual Conference delegation is committed to studying the DCA and discussing issues during our meetings. We are focused on being knowledgeable about all matters before us. This will be my third General Conference to serve on the Local Church legislative committee.  Most of our delegation attended the SCJ gathering in Oklahoma City in February. We met with other delegates from our jurisdiction and had time to meet others assigned to our legislative committees. 
 
Q. What is your reaction to the Protocol of Reconciliation and Grace Through Separation?
A. There are several plans being considered for General Conference. I have reviewed them, they each have been presented and discussed during our delegation meetings. I continue to study each plan and pray for wisdom to discern the best plan for the UMC.
 
Q. What do you think will be the future of the Church?
God is in control, and only He knows what the future holds. I envision there being much discussion about the plans and amendments being addressed. My experience at past General Conferences is that you don't know what will happen until the last few hours. We may end General Conference with a new structural plan for the UMC, but the mission of the Church will remain -- sharing the Word of God throughout the world.
 
Q. What gives you hope or makes you feel excited during this time?
A. By the end of General Conference, my hope is that we as a Church will be moving forward with new opportunities of ministry.  Whatever the outcome, my hope is in the grace of God and that peace cometh within the UMC.