Monday, 11 December, 2017

Methodism's Structure


Here are some of the elements which make up British Methodism:

The Connexion

Methodists belong to local churches, but are also part of a larger connected community – the Connexion. In the Methodist Church decisions are made as openly as possible, giving opportunities for all to contribute. Included in the British Methodist Connexion are all the districts of Wales, Scotland, and England, along with the Isle of Man, the Channel Islands and Shetland.

The Local Church

The local church is the congregational place of worship where Methodist members and other attendees are nurtured. Local Methodist churches are congregations based on the original Methodist ‘societies’ which met within the Church of England. When they began to gather in larger buildings, Methodists continued the practice of meeting in small groups or ‘classes’ for Bible study, prayer and Christian conversation.

The Circuit

A circuit is a group of local churches, served by a team of local preachers and ministers, led by the superintendent minister.

The District

The district serves a geographical group of circuits and is led by the district chair. There are 31 Methodist districts across Great Britain. In Wales we have two districts: an english-speaking district and a smaller one that uses the welsh tongue. Uniquely, since they both cover the same area geographically (the entirety of Wales), we call them synods not districts. Together they form the Methodist Church in Wales.

The Conference

The Methodist Conference meets annually in June or July and is hosted by a different district or group of districts each year. It is the governing body for the Methodist Church.

It first met in 1744 under John Wesley, who gathered together his assistants (both ordained ministers and itinerant lay preachers) to confer together about “what to teach, how to teach, and what to do, ie how to regulate our doctrine, discipline and practice”.

The contemporary Conference is a gathering of representatives from each Methodist district, along with some who have been elected by the Conference and some ex officio members and representatives of the Youth Assembly. There is a  mixture of lay people, ordained presbyters and deacons.

The President and Vice-President

At the start of each Methodist Conference, a new president and vice-president are appointed to preside over the following year’s Conference and spend the year travelling around the Connexion and abroad, representing the Methodist Church. The president is always an ordained presbyter and the vice-president is always a lay person or deacon.

Global Relationships

The Methodist Church in Britain works with 60 partner churches worldwide in four geographical areas: Africa, Europe, the Americas and the Caribbean, Asia and the Pacific, as well as the Methodist Church in Ireland. The Church sends and receives mission partners, arranges scholarships for students and advises on the mutual sharing of resources and experiences with our partner churches.