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Understanding ‘Conferences’ in the United Methodist Church

September 27, 2011

The UMC likes to conference.  It is our way to fellowship, discern, discuss, and make decisions.  It is also our way of organizing by geographic lines.  This can make the UMC use of conferences confusing.  Here are some examples and explanations to help you understand.

Annual Conference – the elected lay and clergy body that gathers once a year to make decisions for the Conference.  For example, the Wisconsin Annual Conference will meet again May 31-June 3, 2012.

Annual Conference or [insert name] Conference – the geographical grouping of UM Churches.  For example, the Wisconsin Conference includes all the UM churches in the state of Wisconsin.  Some Conferences include multiple states or even half/part of a state.  The Dakotas are an example of two states merging to form one Conference and Ohio is an example of two Conferences located within one state.

Jurisdictional Conference – a once-every four year meeting of Conferences sharing a geographical area.  Wisconsin is located in the North Central Jurisdiction and includes these Conferences: Dakotas, Detroit, East Ohio, Illinois Great Rivers, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Northern Illinois, West Michigan, West Ohio, and Wisconsin.  The Jurisdiction elects and appoints Bishops to Conferences within their jurisdiction.

Central Conferences – geographical areas similar to Jurisdictional Conferences only located outside of the United States in Europe, Philippines and Africa.

General Conference –  a term referring to the global United Methodist Church and a once-every four year conference that approves The Book of Disciple.


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