- Annual Conference
An Annual Conference in the
United Methodist Churchis a regional body that governs much of the life of the "Connectional Church." Annual conferences are composed primarily of the clergymembers and a lay member or members from each charge (a charge is one or more churches served by a minister under appointment by the bishop). Each conference is a geographical division. In general, the smaller states in the United States hold one conference each, while larger states often include two or more conferences. Several annual conferences are held in other nations as well.
The Annual Conference is the primary unit of denominational government. Regional groups of conferences make up the
Jurisdictional Conferences, and the entire group of all annual conferences makes up the General Conference which meets every four years. Only the General Conference can speak officially for the church.
The Annual Conference is composed of an equal number of clergy and laity. Each charge conference elects as many lay members to the Annual Conference as they have ministers appointed to that charge. In most cases that is one. The Lay Member must be a Professing Member of the United Methodist Church for at least two years. The Annual Conference also consists of a number of "at-large" members, also known as "additional lay members," the number of at-large members being the number necessary (after the members elected by charge conferences are seated) so that the laity and the clergy are equal in number. First seated among at-large members are lay persons holding certain lay positions or offices designated by the "Discipline" or by the Annual Conference itself. Among those officers are the lay leaders of the conference and each of the districts within the conference, as well as the Conference presidents of the United Methodist Men, United Methodist Women, the young adult organization, the college student organization and the youth fellowship. Also all the diaconal ministers, home missioners and the deaconesses under Episcopal appointment are lay members. When there are multiple congregations in a charge conference, members from each congregation in that charge are encouraged to become at-large members.
Annual Conferences of the United Methodist Church
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