But what exactly is a Charge Conference? Like a lot of United Methodist terms, it has more than one meaning. A charge is the basic unit of the connectional church under the appointment of a senior pastor. In most cases, like Trinity, only one congregation is included in each charge. But in other cases there may be two or more congregations per senior pastor.
Our annual Charge Conference will be this coming Sunday, 5:00 pm, at First UMC Duncanville. I encourage any and all members and constituents of Trinity UMC to attend. It will be a time of information, fellowship, and celebration for the Metro District, led by our District Superintendant Rev. Debra Hobbs Mason. We will end with worship, including Holy Communion.
Attendance is important because it is an indicator of lay involvement in the local church. Districts and annual conferences have resources to share with local churches, but, like all of us, they are called to be good stewards of those resources. Lay involvement is one of the factors that are used to determine which congregations receive those resources.
The first meaning of the term Charge Conference refers to the members of the church councils or equivalent bodies of each congregation of a particular charge. In our case the Administrative Board is the equivalent body. Charge Conferences also include any retired clergy or diagonal ministers of the congregations.
The second meaning of Charge Conference refers to the annual meeting of said Charge Conference. This Sunday’s meeting is this year’s annual meeting. Charge Conferences are always presided over by the District Superintendant, unless the DS has authorized an ordained elder to be the presider.
According to The Discipline (the United Methodist rule book), “the primary responsibility of the Charge Conference in the annual meeting shall be to review and evaluate the total mission and ministry of the church, receive reports, and adopt objectives and goals recommended by the church council that are in keeping with the objectives of The United Methodist Church (par. 247.3).” This also includes assuring adherence to UM doctrinal standards and social principles.
This meeting includes the election of leaders of the local congregation; examination and recommendation of all clergy or church-related vocations candidates, lay ministers, lay servants and speakers; the setting of the compensation of all clergy appointed to the charge; receiving a membership report from the senior pastor; and any other responsibilities designated by the General, jurisdictional, or annual conferences.
Special called sessions of the Charge Conference may also be held during the year to address specific needs of the charge.