The United Methodist Church’s governing structure has three branches: Executive, Judicial and Legislative.
The legislative branch is General Conference which meets every four years to set denominational policy, revise church law, approve budgets for church-wide programs, and adopt resolutions on current moral, social, public policy, and economic issues. General Conference is where additions and changes are made to The Book of Discipline (the book of laws) and The Book of Resolutions (the book of social policies). These books govern the church from the local to the global level. General Conference is also where official teachings and official documents like The United Methodist Hymnal and The United Methodist Book of Worship are approved. <!–split–>
Equal numbers of laity and clergy are elected as delegates to General Conference by their annual conferences. (To see our delegates, go to www.IGRC.org). General Conference is the only body authorized to speak for The United Methodist Church.)
The Council of Bishops is the Executive Branch and is comprised of 151 elected active and retired bishops. Fifty-four active bishops administer 128 conferences around the world. Illinois Great Rivers Conference’s current bishop is The Reverend Doctor Frank J. Beard.
The judicial branch is the Judicial Council which is made up of elected laity and clergy. Its responsibility is to ensure actions of the church bodies adhere to The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church. (Excerpts and information gleaned from the January/February issue of response – the magazine of women in mission.)
FYI – The last General Conference was a specially called conference in 2019. It was called to discuss and rule on one topic – human sexuality. The 2020 General Conference has not been held due to COVID -19. It is scheduled to be convened in Minneapolis this August/Sept. Stay tuned!