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GC’s finished product – BoD and BoR

November 15, 2011

In our denomination, The United Methodist Church, there are two eyes or two sides of a coin. They are: The Book of Discipline and The Book of Resolutions. Both have been amended or revised at each General Conference since 1968 for the sake of enhancing the mission and ministry of churches at all levels.

Book of Discipline

The Book of Discipline sets forth governing laws, rules, functions, leadership responsibilities and various processes that all professing United Methodists
abide by to “do church” at all levels, from General to Local. Both clergy and laity, when they become of members of a United Methodist Church and when they
are ordained or licensed in a United Methodist Annual Conference, make a commitment to abide by the Book of Discipline. Both clergy and laity have
responsibilities and privileges because of the Discipline. It provides clarity to the mission of the Church and also provisions for making the mission into reality, if and when the provisions are strategically and systematically implemented. It also connects the global church through provisions that provide opportunities for people of all ages, nations and races to meet and interact about and for the global church and one of them is General Conference that meets once in four years to deliberate past, present and future of the denomination. The contents of the Book of Discipline include: Constitution, Doctrinal standards, Theological Task, General Rules, Social Principles, The Ministry of the Ordained, Organization and Administration – General to Local, Administrative Order of Boards, Agencies and Commissions, and Judicial Administration. The Book of Discipline is amended every four years by a prescribed process called “Petitioning” by an Organization, clergy member or lay member of the United Methodist Church. The Book of Discipline 2008 has two thousand seven hundred nineteen paragraphs and eight hundred fifty-seven pages – 2719 and 857.

Book of Resolutions

The Book of Discipline defines the Book of Resolutions that are also amended and revised once in four years. The Resolutions are the stand or policy or position of the denomination as a Church on many current social issues and concerns. In other words, they are official expressions of the Church on issues such as environmental concerns, use of energy, nuclear power, human sexuality, cross-cultural ministries, health care, homelessness, immigration, ministry to and with HIV and AIDS patients, racism, suicide, gambling, investments, stewardship issues, church and state, justice and law and many other issues that affect life and ministry of churches and their members. They are divided into seven sections: (1) The Natural World; (2) The Nurturing Community; (3) The Social Community; (4) The Economic Community; (5) The Political Community; (6) The world Community; and (7) Other Resolutions. These areas reflect “The Social Principles” section of the Book of Discipline. A resolution, adopted at a General Conference is valid only for eight years unless it is readopted. The program boards and agencies are responsible to review all resolutions and recommend for either re-adoption or removal. It is highly recommended that The Social Principles and The Book of Resolutions be read side-by-side.  Without doing so we might miss the importance and the significance of the purpose. The Resolutions may be used as a source for local churches to be aware of and familiar with the positions of The United Methodist Church on major socio-economic-political issues of the nation and the world as they are intended to be “instructive and persuasive in the best of the prophetic spirit”. They also may be helpful to address an issue with our congressional members or state legislators about our church’s position of importance.  The Book of Resolutions 2008 has eight thousand and fifteen resolutions – 8015.

General Council on Finance and Administration

When petitions are submitted to amend the Book of Discipline and the Book of Resolutions, in a format prescribed by the General Conference through the office of the General Secretary and/or The Petitions Committee, the petitioner must state the financial implications of the petition whether the amendment or the revision would affect the General Budget for the following quadrennium.

Sam Royappa


  1. Judy Vasby permalink

    My favorite parts of the Discipline are these:
    The section on our Church History, p. 9-20 in the 2008 Discipline.
    Our Doctrinal Heritage, p. 41-50
    Our Doctrinal Standards and General Rules (Paragraph 103, Section 3) , p. 59-74.
    These pieces remind me of the origins of our United Methodist Church and inform me of how we developed our basic beliefs. Understanding the roots of our theology gives solid basis from which to direct our future.

  2. Gail B permalink

    I last looked through information from the Book of Discipline while working with the Committee on Lay Leadership. I realized that many of us have not made the adjustment in “structure” since the changes from 2008 — and soon the 2012 changes will be upon us! For example, most people at the local church level have no idea what I am talking about when I mention the Committe on Lay Leadership… “h, you mean Nominations, right?”, they say. So how do we let folks know about the changes, if and when we make changes, after the changes are made? Just wondering….

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