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Glossary of Terms

Glossary of Terms

Annual Conference: A regional, organizational unit of The United Methodist Church and the yearly business meeting of that unit, both presided over by a bishop. The business session is composed of equal numbers of clergy and laity. At least one layperson from each pastoral charge is a member. There are 54 annual conferences in the United States supervised by 46 episcopal areas and 75 outside the U.S. in Africa, Europe and the Philippines, which are supervised by 20 bishops. The conference is a time to review ministry, adopt policy and resolutions, and strengthen spiritual life.

Bishop: An elder (ordained minister) who is elected to the office of bishop. Unlike the Roman Catholic, Anglican, and Orthodox traditions, The United Methodist Church considers the episcopacy an "office" and not a third order of ministry (along with deacon and elder). A United Methodist bishop is consecrated for the office of bishop by other United Methodist bishops. A bishop serves as a general superintendent of the denomination. As such, individually and collectively bishops give general oversight to the temporal and spiritual interests of the entire denomination. It is a responsibility of the bishops to see that the rules, regulations, and responsibilities developed by the General Conference are understood and effectively carried out. The Greek word for bishop is episcopos, which is the root word for episcopal. Bishops serve until they are 68 then they retire. Retired Bishops remain a member of the Council of Bishops. SC Annual conference Bishop is currently Reverend Jonathon Holston.

Book of Discipline: Is a volume of church history, doctrinal standards, and church law. It was originally published in 1784 and has been published every four years thereafter following the meeting of the General Conference. Changes were made at the special called General Conference in 2019, but the last printed edition is that of 2016. You can read the entire Book of Discipline online here: .

Book of Resolutions: The volume containing the text of all resolutions or pronouncements on issues approved by the General Conference and currently valid. The Book of Resolutions contains not only the resolutions and policy statements passed by the most recent General Conference, but also all such statements still considered to represent the position of The United Methodist Church. The text of any
resolution is considered the official position of the denomination on that subject. .

Charge Conference: The charge conference is the basic governing body of each United Methodist local church and is composed of all members of the church council. All members of the charge conference must be members of the local church. The charge conference must meet at least once per year. The charge conference directs the work of the church and gives general oversight to the church council, reviews and evaluates the mission and ministry of the church, sets salaries for the pastor and staff, elects the members of the church council, and recommends candidates for ordained ministry. BSUMC Charge conference is to take place between September and December.

Church Council: The church council plans and implements the programs and ministry of the local church as well as oversees the administration of the church. The church council is amenable to the charge conference. The Church Council is put in place by the nominations committee and is the governing body of the local church.

Church Conference: To encourage broader participation by members of the church, the charge conference may be convened as the church conference, extending the vote to all professing members of the local church present at such meetings. The church conference shall be authorized by the district superintendent. It may be called at the discretion of the district superintendent or following a written request to the district superintendent by one of the following: the pastor, the church council, or 10 percent of the professing membership of the local church. In any case a copy of the request shall be given to the pastor. Additional regulations governing the call and conduct of the charge conference as set forth in ¶¶ 246-247 shall apply also to the church conference. A joint church conference for two or more churches may be held at the same time and place as the district superintendent may determine. A church conference shall be conducted in the language of the majority with adequate provision being made for translation. (For church local conference see ¶ 2527.)
Connection: The principle, basic to The United Methodist Church, that all leaders and congregations are connected in a network of loyalties and commitments that support, yet supersede, local concerns. Council of Bishops: All active (58) and retired (91) bishops of The United Methodist Church. The council meets twice a year. According to The Book of Discipline 2000, "The Council of Bishops is...the collegial expression of episcopal leadership in the Church and through the Church into the world. The Church expects the Council of Bishops to speak to the Church and from the Church to the world, and to give leadership in the quest for Christian unity and interreligious relationships. "The Council is led administratively by an executive committee, which includes a president and other officers. Reverend Bishop Jonathon Holston, our current SC Bishop is currently the Secretary of the Council on Bishops.

Delegate: The voting members of the General Conference. The total number of delegates to a General Conference must consist of an equal number of clergy and lay delegates. Lay delegates are elected by ballot by the lay members of their respective Annual Conferences. Clergy delegates are elected by ballot by the clergy members. These elections are held during sessions of the Annual Conference in the year preceding the General Conference. The number of delegates an Annual Conference is
entitled to send to a General Conference is based on two factors: the number of clergy members of the Annual Conference and the number of members of local churches in the Annual Conference. The Constitution of The United Methodist Church states that the membership of General Conference shall be no fewer than 600 and no more than 1,000. Since 1968 the practice has been to have the total number of delegates at or near the upper limit.


What is Disaffiliation? Disaffiliation is the act of leaving a denomination.  Paragraph 2553 in the Book of Discipline was enacted in 2019 to provide a pathway for churches to disaffiliate from the UMC and for the church’s property to transfer from the denomination to the local church. 

District: Groups of churches in a geographic area are organized to form a district. Often, churches in a district will work together to provide training and mission opportunities. Each district is led by a district superintendent (“DS”), an elder appointed by the bishop, usually for a six-year term. The DS oversees the ministry of the district’s clergy and churches, provides spiritual and pastoral leadership, works with the bishop and others in the appointment of ordained ministers to serve the district’s churches, presides at meetings of the charge conference, and oversees programs within the district. SC has 12 Districts; we are in the Charleston District. District Superintendent (DS): An ordained minister appointed by a bishop to oversee the pastors and local churches in a district. A district superintendent may not serve in that capacity more than six years in any consecutive nine years. No minister may serve more than a total of twelve years as a superintendent. The superintendent carries a wide range of responsibilities for the local churches in the district and throughout the
Conference as a whole. Primary responsibilities relate to overseeing the work of the local churches, including presiding at Charge Conferences, and supervising the work of the pastors, including participating with the bishop in the making of appointments. Our Charleston District Superintendent is Reverend Dr. Sandra Stevens Poirel.

Doctrinal Standards: Key statements of historical and doctrinal importance for The United Methodist Church. The doctrinal standards include the Articles of Religion and the Confession of Faith. These are accompanied by the General Rules of Our United Societies. All three of these are printed in The Book of Discipline and are protected by the Restrictive Rules (see ¶¶ 17-22), protects both the Articles of Religion and the Confession of Faith as doctrinal standards that shall not be revoked, altered, or changed. The process of creating new "standards or rules of doctrine" thus continues to be restricted, requiring either that they be declared "not contrary to" the present standards or that they go through the difficult process of constitutional amendment.

Episcopacy: Refers to the office of bishop. Episcopacy also refers to the system of church government in which bishops serve as general superintendents of the church and are responsible individually and collectively for the spiritual and temporal welfare of the denomination. The episcopal system is established by the Constitution as an integral part of the organizational structure of United Methodism. Evangelical United Brethren Church: Formed in 1946 by the union of The Church of the United Brethren in Christ and The Evangelical Church. Both denominations began as churches serving the German population in the early 1800s. By the time of the 1946 union, these churches had broadened their ministries throughout the eastern and north central portions of the United States. Discussions soon began concerning union with The Methodist Church. A plan of union was approved by both denominations. In 1968 The Evangelical United Brethren Church and The Methodist Church united to form The United Methodist Church.

General Conference: The highest legislative body in The United Methodist Church. The voting membership consists of an equal number of clergy and lay delegates elected by the annual conferences. General Conference convenes every quadrennium (four years) to determine the denomination's future direction. It is the only body that can speak officially for the denomination. It sets the rules and establishes procedures for virtually every aspect of the church's life. It also communicates the denomination's
official position on a variety of issues and cultural challenges. At the General Conference, delegates discuss and vote on petitions and resolutions proposed by individuals, agencies, annual conferences, and other groups within the denomination. These actions result in a revision of the Book of Discipline, the denomination's book of law, and Book of Resolutions, policies of the denomination on current social issues. It is at General Conference where delegates wrestle with today's issues in light of scriptural teachings and the church's understanding of that teaching. Here is where the church's official stands and church policies are made regarding such issues as human sexuality, abortion, war and peace, as well as determination of ministries and funding. General Conferences are generally held in years divisible by 4, such as 2016, 2020, 2024 etc., with the exception of special sessions like the one held in 2019.

The Global Methodist Church: A new traditional global church that Vision is to join God in a journey of bringing new life, reconciliation, and the presence of Christ to all people, and to helping each person reflect the character of Christ. Founded 2022

Itineracy: The system in The United Methodist Church by which pastors are appointed to their charges by the bishops. The pastors are under obligation to serve where appointed. The present form of the itineracy grew from the practice of Methodist pastors traveling widely throughout the church on circuits. Assigned to service by a bishop, they were not to remain with one particular congregation for any length of time.

Judicial Council: The Judicial Council is the highest court of the church. It determines the constitutionality and legality of acts or proposed acts of the General, jurisdictional, central and annual conferences based on the church's constitution and other parts of The Book of Discipline.

Jurisdictions: The United Methodist Church is divided into five areas known as jurisdictions: Northeastern, Southeastern, North Central, South Central and Western. These provide some program and leadership training events to support the annual conferences. Every four years the jurisdictional conferences meet to elect new bishops
and select members of general boards and agencies. We are located in the Southeastern Conference in SC. Annual conferences located outside the United States are organized into central conferences, much like jurisdictions. There are seven central conferences: Africa, Central and Southern Europe, Congo, Germany, Northern Europe, Philippines, and West Africa. Methodist Church, The: Formed in 1939 through the union of The Methodist Episcopal Church, The Methodist Episcopal Church, South and The Methodist Protestant Church. This union brought together three important streams of American Methodism, which had separated from one another in the first half of the nineteenth century. In 1968 The Methodist Church merged with The Evangelical United Brethren Church to form The United Methodist Church. In its twenty-nine years between 1939 and 1968, The Methodist Church extended its ministry. This was the period of the development of strong and effective general agencies, and increase in the educational standards for clergy and the outreach of the denomination through its colleges,
universities, hospitals and homes.

Ordained Minister: A person, in the traditional language of United Methodism, "within the ministry of the baptized who is called of God and set aside by the Church for the
specialized ministry of Word, Sacrament, and Order." To qualify for ordination an individual must meet the requirements for membership set forth by The United Methodist Church and the Annual Conference and must have completed the necessary educational training. The individual must also receive the recommendation of the Annual Conference Board of Ordained Ministry and the affirmative vote of the ministerial members of the conference to receive ordination as a deacon or an elder. Following ordination one has the authority to exercise the responsibilities and duties of an ordained minister.

Quadrennium: The official four-year period beginning January 1 following each General Conference, during which The United Methodist Church implements General Conference legislation.

Reconciling Network (RMN): The Reconciling Ministries Network is an organization seeking the inclusion of people of all sexual orientations and gender identities RMN equips and mobilizes United Methodists of all sexual orientations and gender identities to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves. Founded in 1984.

Pinopolis United Methodist Church
1833 Pinopolis Road, PO Box 521, Pinopolis, SC 24969
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