Christ First UMC | 663 Lakeview Avenue | Jamestown NY 14701

October 2023 - Annual Charge Conference

Have you ever found yourself asking, “Who is in charge around here”? What was the answer: the Advisory Council or the Trustees? The Pastor? Maybe you have had another thought. In order to answer this question we must go to the “rule book”. For the United Methodist Church, that is The Book of Discipline, which was most recently revised in 2016.

A section titled “The Charge Conference” begins on page 173 of The Book of Discipline. This section begins by explaining who the members are of the charge conference. In short, it tells us that they must have Christian character, love the church, are morally disciplined, and are committed to the mandates and ethical standards of the U.M.C. They must also be competent to administer the affairs of the church. It must include youth members, held to the same standards as the adults. All persons must be professing members of the local church. The Pastor shall be the administrative officer. Paragraph 247 explains that The Charge Conference has general oversight of the church council (aka Administrative Board/Council).

On page 178, Paragraph 248 talks about “The Church Conference”. This meeting can be called in place of The Charge Conference, in order to encourage and allow broader participation by members of the church. Although we generally refer to our yearly meeting with the District Superintendent as The Charge Conference, what we are really holding is The Church Conference. This meeting allows all professing members of the local church to be present and have a vote.

We now know what the Charge/Church Conference is, but have we answered the original question? Do we know who is really in charge? Every committee in the church (Administrative Council, Trustees, Staff-Parish Relations Committee (SPPRC), and others) begins in our Church Conference. This is where the members of the church vote on the nominations for these committees and the mission, ministry, objectives and goals of these committees. Basic financial decisions also begin here. This is where the Pastor's support package is agreed upon, as well as other financial directives and decisions as needed. Everything starts at the charge conference.

So where does The Church Council's authority come in? Page 182 of The Book of Discipline says, “The church council shall be amenable to and function as the administrative agency of the charge conference.” This means that the church council is responsible to carry out the plan and directives of the charge conference. When we vote in the members of the church council, we are agreeing that these persons have what it takes and we trust them to carry out the plans that we are setting in place on that day.

What about the Trustees? What is their authority? The Board of Trustees has a very important role. They are responsible to care for and protect the real and personal property of the church. They are given great authority to make decisions and do what needs to be done with buildings, grounds and certain financial investments of the church. This can be a tough job, since they are not only responsible to state and federal regulations, they are also responsible to the charge conference. Paragraph 2529, on page 752, of The Book of Discipline explains, “The board of trustees shall be responsible to the charge conference”. Following this statement, there is a list of directives that the charge conference can make to the Trustees, concerning care and control of church property, receiving or usage of gifts and trusts, investment of assets, and others.

So who is in charge? If you are a member of this church, you are! It is your right and responsibility, as a member, to direct the church activities for the coming year. The church conference for the Christ First UMC will be held on Saturday, November 11, at 10:00 AM. If you have ever questioned how decisions are made for our church and who is making them, come and be a part of the process. Members of the church are eligible to vote and all interested persons are welcome to attend.

May God be glorified and may all Christian’s live a rewarding life in Christ, running the race set before us.
Pastor Jenni Piatt

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