Naomi Bartle, 81, has attended 10 General Conferences, and she’s seen a lot over the past few decades.
At the past nine global gatherings, Bartle has served on the Committee on Correlation and Editorial Revision, which works with the United Methodist Publishing House editorial staff to edit and publish The Book of Discipline and The Book of Resolutions.
“The opportunity to serve at General Conference has brought me all over the country and allowed me to meet people from all over the world,” said Bartle, a lifelong United Methodist who currently lives in Blaine and is a member of Gethsemane United Methodist Church in Lino Lakes. She is a member of the Dakotas Conference and served as administrative assistant to the bishop of the Dakotas Conference from 1980 to 2008.
Bartle’s first General Conference was in 1980 in Indianapolis, where she served as a volunteer. In 1984, Bishop Michael Coyner nominated her for the Committee on Correlation and Editorial Revision—and she’s been on it ever since.
“I have witnessed the demographics of the church change at each General Conference, “she said. “The politics of around rules of procedure has not changed.”
Her committee’s work is governed by the rules of the conference, which are approved at the beginning of each General Conference. The Council of Bishops names two lay members, two clergy members, and two alternates to serve on it.
A software program, Conference and Legislative Management System (or CALMS), assists the committee with its tasks by handling all of the legislative administration. The committee is responsible for editing The Book of Discipline and The Book of Resolutions based on the content and instruction of each adopted petition. In many cases, a petition impacts multiple paragraphs. For instance, a word change, such as “probationary” to “provisional,” must be changed everywhere it appears.
“It is just great to have the software,” said Bartle. “We have used computers since the 1996 General Conference and it has made such a difference.” Prior to the use of technology, the committee completed its tasks by using paper copies, scissors, glue sticks, and three-ring notebooks.
The 2020 General Conference will be in Minneapolis. Bartle plans to work as a volunteer and assist however she can.
“At 81, I am hopeful that everything will work out for me to serve at General Conference in Minneapolis,” she said.
Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church