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Section II. General Conference


¶ 13. Article I.—1. The General Conference shall be composed of not less than 600 nor more than 1,000 delegates, one half of whom shall be clergy and one half lay members, to be elected by the annual conferences. The missionary conferences shall be considered as annual conferences for the purpose of this article.13

2. Delegates shall be elected in a fair and open process by the annual conferences. Delegates may be elected by other autonomous Methodist churches if and when the General Conference shall approve concordats with such other autonomous Methodist churches for the mutual election and seating of delegates in each other’s legislative conferences.14

3. In the case of The Methodist Church in Great Britain, mother church of Methodism, provision shall be made for The United Methodist Church to send two delegates annually to the British Methodist Conference, and The Methodist Church in Great Britain to send four delegates quadrennially to The United Methodist General Conference, the delegates of both conferences having vote and being evenly divided between clergy and laity.15

¶ 14. Article II.—The General Conference shall meet once in four years at such time and in such place as shall be determined by the General Conference or by its duly authorized committees. The change in the preceding sentence shall become effective at the close of General Conference in 2016.

A special session of the General Conference, possessing the authority and exercising all the powers of the General Conference, may be called by the Council of Bishops, or in such other manner as the General Conference may from time to time prescribe, to meet at such time and in such place as may be stated in the call. Such special session of the General Conference shall be composed of the delegates to the preceding General Conference or their lawful successors, except that when a particular annual conference or missionary conference16 shall prefer to have a new election it may do so.17 The purpose of such special session shall be stated in the call, and only such business shall be transacted as is in harmony with the purpose stated in such call unless the General Conference by a two-thirds vote shall determine that other business may be transacted.18

¶ 15. Article III.—The General Conference shall fix the ratio of representation in the General, jurisdictional, and central conferences from the annual conferences, missionary conferences,19 and the provisional annual conferences, computed on a two-factor basis: (1) the number of clergy members of the annual conference and the missionary conference,20 and (2) the number of professing21 members in the annual conference and the missionary conference,22 provided that each annual conference, missionary conference,23 or provisional annual conference shall be entitled to at least one clergy and one lay delegate in the General Conference and also in the jurisdictional or central conference.24

¶ 16. Article IV.—The General Conference shall have full legislative power over all matters distinctively connectional, and in the exercise of this power shall have authority as follows:25

1. To define and fix the conditions, privileges, and duties of Church membership, which shall in every case be without reference to race, gender, or status.26

2. To define and fix the powers and duties of elders, deacons, supply preachers, local preachers, exhorters, deaconesses, and home missioners.27

3. To define and fix the powers and duties of annual conferences, provisional annual conferences, missionary conferences and missions, and of central conferences, district conferences, charge conferences, and congregational meetings.28

4. To provide for the organization, promotion, and administration of the work of the Church outside the United States of America.29

5. To define and fix the powers, duties, and privileges of the episcopacy, to adopt a plan for the support of the bishops, to provide a uniform rule for their retirement, and to provide for the discontinuance of a bishop because of inefficiency or unacceptability.30

6. To provide and revise the hymnal and ritual of the Church and to regulate all matters relating to the form and mode of worship, subject to the limitations of the first and second Restrictive Rules.31

7. To provide a judicial system and a method of judicial procedure for the Church, except as herein otherwise prescribed.

8. To initiate and to direct all connectional enterprises of the Church and to provide boards for their promotion and administration.32

9. To determine and provide for raising and distributing funds necessary to carry on the work of the Church.33

10. To fix a uniform basis upon which bishops shall be elected by the jurisdictional conferences and to determine the number of bishops that may be elected by central conferences.34

11. To select its presiding officers from the bishops, through a committee, provided that the bishops shall select from their own number the presiding officer of the opening session.35

12. To change the number and the boundaries of jurisdictional conferences upon the consent of a majority of the annual conferences in each jurisdictional conference involved.36

13. To establish such commissions for the general work of the Church as may be deemed advisable.

14. To secure the rights and privileges of membership in all agencies, programs, and institutions in The United Methodist Church regardless of race, gender, or status.37

15. To allow the annual conferences to utilize structures unique to their mission, other mandated structures notwithstanding.38

16. To enact such other legislation as may be necessary, subject to the limitations and restrictions of the Constitution of the Church.39

13. Amended 1976.
14. See Judicial Council Decisions 435 and 592.
15. Amended 1996.
16. Amended 1976.
17. See Judicial Council Decisions 221, 226, 228, 238, 302.
18. See Judicial Council Decision 227.
19. Amended 1976.
20. Amended 1976.
21. Amended 2000.
22. Amended 1976.
23. Amended 1976.
24. See Judicial Council Decision 403.
25. See Judicial Council Decisions 96, 232, 236, 318, 325, 544.
26. See Judicial Council Decision 558.
27. See Judicial Council Decisions 58, 313.
28. See Judicial Council Decision 411.
29. See Judicial Council Decision 182; amended 1976.
30. See Judicial Council Decisions 35, 114, 312, 365, 413.
31. See Judicial Council Decision 694.
32. See Judicial Council Decisions 214, 364, 411, 1210.
33. See Judicial Council Decisions 30, 1208.
34. See Judicial Council Decisions 598, 735.
35. See Judicial Council Decision 126.
36. See Judicial Council Decisions 55, 56, 215.
37. See Decisions 4, 5, Interim Judicial Council; Judicial Council Decisions 427, 433, 442, 451, 540, 558, 567, 588, 594, 601.
38. See Judicial Council Decision 825; amended 1996.
39. See Judicial Council Decisions 215, 1220.

From The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church - 2016 Copyright 2016 by The United Methodist Publishing House. Used by permission.