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Separating myths from Methodism

The local church is the basic body of The United Methodist Church.

Fact: Article II of the constitution of The United Methodist Church (Book of Discipline ¶33) declares the annual conference as the basic body of The United Methodist Church.

The primary mission of the local church is to provide for the spiritual needs of its members.

Fact: The mission of the Church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. Local churches provide the most significant arena through which disciple-making occurs. (Book of Discipline ¶ 120)

All United Methodists are expected to agree on statements in the Book of Resolutions.

Fact: The Book of Resolutions collects in one volume all current and official social policies and other resolutions adopted by the General Conference. They are considered official policy statements to guide work and ministry of the denomination on some 200 subjects, an educational resource on many important issues affecting the lives of people and God's creation, guides and models for helping members and groups relate biblical faith to daily actions, and resource materials to help in preparing public statements about United Methodist concerns on social issues. The User's Guide to the Book of Resolutions states that individuals may agree or disagree. "Either is all right. At least you know your church cares and wants you to be a knowledgeable and caring Christian about the issues of the day." (Book of Resolutions, page 25)

The General Conference has the final authority to amend the constitution of The United Methodist Church.

Fact: Most amendmenta to the Constitution require a two-thirds majority vote of the General Conference delegates present and voting and a two-thirds affirmative vote of the aggregate number of (voting) members of the annual conferences. Following voting by the annual conferences, the Council of Bishops collect the votes, and the amendment becomes effective upon the Council's announcement it has received the required majority. (Division 5, Article 1 United Methodist Constitution, Book of Discipline ¶59)

The bishops have exclusive authority over appointments and can skip the step of consultation if they so desire.

Fact: Consultation in appoint-making is mandatory. It is the process whereby the bishop/and or district superintendent confers with the pastor and church committee on pastor-parish relations. The Discipline emphasizes consultation is not merely notification, selection or call of a pastor. The role of the Pastor-Parish Relations Committee is advisory. Consultation is both a continuing process and a more intense involvement during the period of change in appointment. (Book of Discipline ¶431)

A United Methodist bishop's primary responsibility is to his or her episcopal area, and secondarily, to the entire church.

Fact: Bishops, although elected by jurisdictional or central conferences are elected general superintendents of the whole Church. As all ordained ministers are first elected into membership of an annual conference and subsequently appointed to pastoral charges, so bishops become through their election members first of the Council of Bishops before they are subsequently assigned to areas of service. (Book of Discipline ¶427)

Compiled by the Rev. Joan G. LaBarr