United Methodist Basics

You may not be familiar with the structure nor basic terminology within the Methodist church.   Below is a definition of some of the terms you will hear or read about regarding the United Methodist church.

  1. General Conference –   the denomination’s top legislative body or all church matters.  The General Conference meets every 4 years.  Special sessions may be called by the Council of Bishops, such as the one which will occur in February of 2019.  Regional delegates from annual conferences attend the General Conference. 
  2. Annual Conference – the regional unit of the United Methodist Church, presided over by a bishop.  The conference meets annually to review ministry, adopt policy and resolutions, and strengthen spiritual life.
  3. Church Council – oversees the mission of the individual church, provides accountability and support for the pastor and staff, and serves as keepers of the vision.
  4. Book of Discipline – In the United Methodist Church, the Book of Discipline outlines the law, doctrine, administration, organizational work, and procedures of the church.   The Book of Discipline is typically updated every 4 years following the General Council.
  5. Apportionments – Each church gives a financial allocation to the United Methodist organization, which funds various ministries supported by the church.   The funds are allocated based upon a formula defined by the annual conference.
  6. Trust clause – All properties of United Methodist local churches and other United Methodist agencies and institutions are held, in trust by the denomination.  The ownership and usage of church property is subject to the Discipline.