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Glossary: C

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The organization in an annual conference whose membership consists of the resident bishop and the district superintendents. The Cabinet provides oversight and direction for the work of the annual conference,... Read More

calendar, Christian

Six distinct periods of Christian observances. Each focuses upon a different aspect of the Christian experience and tradition. These periods or seasons do not necessarily occur on the same dates... Read More


Those preparing for licensing and ordination in The United Methodist Church formally explore their call to ministry through a process of inquiry and candidacy as required in The Book of... Read More


The books of the Bible recognized as having authority as Scripture and as being accepted for use. The word canon comes from the Greek word meaning ruler or measuring rod.... Read More


Derived from a Greek word meaning universal. When spelled with a capital "C" in current usage Catholic has come to be accepted as a shortened reference to the Roman Catholic... Read More


A group of persons who have joined together to devise policies and positions appropriate to the concerns of the group and who jointly act to advocate for that group and... Read More

central conference

One of seven geographic areas outside the territorial United States, each composed of annual conferences as determined by the General Conference. Central Conferences have responsibilities similar to those of Jurisdictional... More


The container or vessel used to hold the wine in the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper or Holy Communion. The chalice is also referred to as the "Cup," which is... Read More


Historically, that portion of the church or sanctuary which was reserved for the clergy. Often it was set apart from the rest of the church by lattices or crossbars. The... Read More

chancel railing or rail

The low railing which in many United Methodist churches separates the chancel from the remainder of the worship sanctuary or room. Generally it is constructed in such a way as... Read More

charge conference

The charge conference is the basic governing body of each United Methodist local church and is composed of all members of the church council. More

charge, pastoral

One or more local churches organized under and subject to the Book of Discipline, governed by a single charge conference, and to which an ordained or licensed pastor is appointed. Read More

Christ candle

The large white candle used on Christmas Eve or on Christmas Day or both. The Christ candle is often the candle located in the center of an Advent wreath. Source:... Read More

Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns

The general agency that advocates for and works toward Christian unity in every aspect of the life of The United Methodist Church. It works to enable ecumenical and interreligious understanding... Read More


The day on which Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. More

Christmas Conference

The name given to the conference at which the Methodist Episcopal Church in America was formally organized. The conference began on December 24, 1784, and lasted until January 2 or 3, 1785, at the Lovely... Read More

Christmas Season

The second of six seasons in the Christian calendar. The Christmas Season begins at sunset Christmas Eve and lasts, in United Methodist usage, through Epiphany (January 6). The liturgical color for... Read More

Church and Society, General Board of

The agency that challenges United Methodists to work in areas of important social concern. This board works for the implementation of the Social Principles and other policy statements on social... Read More

church conference

The convening of the Charge Conference as a meeting in which all members of a local United Methodist church are invited to attend and are extended the privilege of vote.... Read More

church council

The church council plans and implements the programs and ministry of the local church as well as oversees the administration of the church. More

Church of the United Brethren in Christ, The

One of the predecessor denominations of the United Methodist Church. The church was formally organized in September of 1800 following a number of years of less formal fellowship among lay persons... Read More


Two or more local churches joined together for pastoral supervision. The churches on a circuit constitute one pastoral charge. When a pastoral charge consists of only one local church, it... Read More

circuit rider

A term of historic usage in American Methodism. From the earliest years of the denomination, pastors were appointed to serve a large number of local churches and preaching places located... Read More


Clergy in The United Methodist Church are individuals who serve as commissioned ministers, deacons, elders, and local pastors under appointment of a bishop (full- and part-time), who hold membership in... Read More


The word was formed by combining Coke and Asbury, the names of the first two general superintendents of The Methodist Episcopal Church in America. The primary use of the word... Read More

colors, liturgical

The colors symbolizing the days and seasons of the Christian year, used for stoles and other vestments, altar cloths and other paraments, and church decorations. The liturgical colors are as... Read More


One of the sacraments of The United Methodist Church. This sacrament is often called the Lord's Supper. Eucharist, from the Greek word for thanksgiving, has been yet another traditional name... More

communion stewards

Persons elected by the Charge Conference to be responsible for the preparation of the bread, wine and the communion ware for use in the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper. Source:... Read More

conference journal

The annual volume in which each annual conference publishes the reports and records of its activities for the year. Each annual conference is required to keep an exact record of... Read More

Confession of Faith, the

A statement devised by The Evangelical United Brethren Church. At the time of the union in 1968 with The Methodist Church, the Confession of Faith was included as one of the... Read More


The act by which persons who were baptized as infants or young children (or, because of other special circumstances, could not make the baptismal vows themselves) make their first public... More


The principle, basic to The United Methodist Church, that all leaders and congregations are connected in a network of loyalties and commitments that support, yet supersede, local concerns. Source: Sharing... Read More

connectional covenant

The pledge to financially support in full the general funds of The United Methodist Church, established by the General Conference to underwrite the minimum needs of denominational ministries, which are... More


The act of conferring a ministerial office or function through prayer and the laying on of hands, as for a bishop at a session of the Jurisdictional Conference. Source: Sharing... Read More

Constitution, the

The fundamental constituting and legal document of The United Methodist Church. The Constitution was approved as part of the Plan of Union for the merger of The Evangelical United Brethren... Read More


The act of a person's being born spiritually into the Kingdom of God. Through conversion the individual recognizes Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and accepts the doctrines of Christianity... Read More

Council of Bishops

All active and retired bishops of The United Methodist Church. The council meets twice a year. According to The Book of Discipline 2000, "The Council of Bishops is…the collegial expression... Read More

course of study

The educational requirements that must be completed by a person seeking to be a local pastor or to enter the ordained ministry, but who has not attended theological school. A... Read More


The entering into and committing oneself to a continuing relationship. Christians see themselves as a people of a covenant with God. The New Testament or "New Covenant" is that covenant... Read More


('kresh) A nativity scene representing the stable in Bethlehem with the Christ child, Mary and Joseph. Many creches also have figures of the shepherds, the wise men, and various animals. ... Read More


A brief, authoritative statement of religious belief. Historically, the two most important of these for United Methodism have been the Apostles' Creed and the Nicene Creed. Source: A Dictionary for... Read More