Resources for Holy Conversations on Marriage Equality
Welcome to this resource page. We hope to provide information helpful to you in your reflections and conversations. We have placed these resources by category:
- Holy Conversation (more)
- Bishop John R. Schol, present bishop over the Baltimore Washington Conference (more)
The Baltimore Washington UMConnection newsletter (more
Local news sources (more
- The Book of Discipline
- Equal Rights Regardless of Sexual Orientation (more)
- Human Sexuality (more)
- Marriage (more)
- The Book of Resolutions
- Church to Be in Ministry to Persons of All Sexual Orientations (more)
- Opposition to Homophobia and Heterosexism (more)
- Report of the Task Force on Homosexuality and the Unity of the Church (more)
- Rights of All Persons (more)
- What United Methodism Says about Scripture (more)
You may also encounter terms which are new. Below we have provided definitions and/or links to the UMC official webpage.
United Methodist official website: www.UMC.org
What is The Book of Resolutions of the United Methodist Church?
When approved by the General Conference of the United Methodist Church, resolutions state the policy of the United Methodist Church on current social issues and concerns. These resolutions are compiled and published every four years, following the General Conference of the United Methodist Church.1
What is The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church?
“The Discipline is the book of law of The United Methodist Church. The Discipline [is] the instrument for setting forth the laws, plan, policy, and process by which the United Methodists govern themselves.” Every four years 1000 delegates, equal numbers of laity and clergy, meet from annual conferences around the world to amend and clarify the Discipline. The Discipline is not sacrosanct or infallible. It is the product of research, prayer, conversation, and worship which provides the “most current statement of how United Methodists agree to live their lives together.”2
What is the General Conference?3
The General Conference is the top policy-making body of the international United Methodist Church. General Conference is the only body that officially speaks for the 11.5-million member denomination (13 million if including baptized children who have not become members). During the nine-day session, 992 delegates will revise The Book of Discipline, which regulates the manner in which local churches, annual conferences and general agencies are organized. Delegates also revise The Book of Resolutions, a volume declaring the church’s stance on a wide variety of social justice issues. The book contains more than 300 resolutions that are considered instructive and persuasive, but are not binding on members.
What is the Annual Conference?
When you hear the term "annual conference," it could be referring to any one of three things. The annual conference is a regional body, an organizational unit, and a yearly meeting.
The annual (sometimes referred to as 'regional') conference is described by the church's Book of Discipline as the "basic unit" of the church.
An annual conference may cover an entire state, only part of the state, or even parts of two or more states. There are also three missionary conferences in the United States, which rely upon the denomination as a whole for funding.
The United States has 63 annual conferences, supervised by 50 bishops. There are 59 annual conferences in Africa, Europe, and the Philippines, which are supervised by 18 bishops.
The annual conference has a central office and professional staff that coordinate and conduct ministry and the business of the conference. It likely has a director of connectional ministries, treasurer, directors of program areas (such as camping), communications director, and other staff as deemed appropriate for the annual conference and as required by the Book of Discipline. Clergy and laypersons may also serve on conference boards, commissions and committees.
Annual Conference sessions
Each year—usually in May or June—all clergy members and an equal number of lay members selected from the local churches attend their conference’s Annual Conference session meet together to worship, fellowship, and conduct the business of the conference, which may last 3-5 days. During these sessions, members of the conference hear reports of past and ongoing work; adopt future goals, programs and budgets; ordain clergy members as deacons and elders; and elect delegates to Jurisdictional and General Conferences (every 4 years). The bishop presides over these meetings.
1. The Book of Resolutions of The United Methodist Church, 2004, p. 5.
2. The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church, 2004, p. v.