Article 8. Organization and Government
Article 8. Organization and Government
315. Pastoral Charges. The members of the denomination shall be grouped into local churches, one or more of which shall constitute a pastoral charge. Each pastoral charge has the constitutional right to:
- (1) Receive and expel or discontinue members subject to the provisions of The Discipline. This right vests severally in each local church. (365).
- (2) Call its own pastor, subject to confirmation by the district conference.
- (3) Grant or revoke local licenses for various ministries as provided in The Discipline. This right may be delegated to the church board. (365).
- (4) Recommend persons for various ministries to the district conference. This right may be delegated to the church board.
- (5) Elect its own officers and to remove the same for cause. Except as provided in 365, no pastor or other official has any right to appoint an officer or declare an office vacant. This right belongs to the church alone, and vests severally in each local church.
- (6) Elect trustees and through such trustees to supervise, control, and maintain its property for the use and benefit of the ministry and members of The Wesleyan Church, subject to its regulations and appointments as from time to time legislated and declared. This right vests severally in each local church.
- (7) Be represented in the voting membership of its district conference, if not under discipline.
- (8) Have recourse to a proper court of jurisdiction in any matters of controversy between itself and other local, or district, or general units or agencies of the denomination. This right vests severally in each local church.
317. The General Conference shall organize the work at large into districts, which shall operate under its jurisdiction and promote the interests of the denomination, and whose voting membership shall include the following: All ordained ministers on the appointed, retired, reserve, and educational leave lists; licensed ministers elected to ordained minister’s status; all commissioned and licensed ministers serving as pastors of Wesleyan churches; all commissioned and licensed ministers serving as assistant pastors of Wesleyan churches; members of the district board of administration who are not members by some other right; and lay delegates elected as provided in The Discipline. In addition the district conference shall include such nonvoting members as The Discipline shall provide. The principle of equal representation of the ministry and the laity in the district conference shall be maintained.
320. In transacting the business of the district conference the ministers and lay members shall deliberate as one body; but on the final vote on any question, at the call of one-fourth of the members, the house shall divide, and the ministers and lay members shall vote separately; and it shall require a majority vote of each branch to pass any question upon which the division has been called.
323. The constitutional rights of each district shall include the following. The right to:
- (1) Take charge of all the ministers and churches within its bounds, as modified by 360:3e and 365 (except those serving the General Church as the General Conference shall define who shall be amenable to the General Board, and except the district superintendent who shall be amenable to the General Board), and subject to the right of the ministers and churches to enter into pastoral engagements.
- (2) Alter the agreement entered into by any pastor and charge, or veto the action of the church and appoint another pastor on said charge when it deems this to be for the best interest of the charge or pastor involved or when the general interest of the work of the district would be better served by such change; and the said church or charge shall receive the pastor appointed by the district conference, provided that any such alteration of a previous arrangement between a pastor and church shall be separately reported and passed by vote of the district conference to be effective.
- (3) Elect and ordain ministers, and to receive ordained ministers from other denominations subject to the restrictions of The Discipline.
- (4) Receive or decline persons recommended to it for various ministries by the pastoral charges within its bounds.
- (5) Organize and receive local churches within the boundaries of the territory assigned to it by the General Conference, and to fix the boundaries of its circuits and stations.
- (6) Take such actions and adopt such rules as it shall judge necessary to promote the interest and prosperity of the Church and to amend or rescind the same, provided it shall not add to or take from any provision of the Constitution or of The Discipline, and provided further that if three members of a district shall take exception to its action on the ground that it violates this restriction, they may make an appeal therefrom through the channels prescribed by The Discipline.
- (7) Elect its own officers as outlined in The Discipline and to dismiss them for cause.
- (8) Elect in the manner prescribed by The Discipline its own board of trustees and through them to receive, hold, encumber, and dispose of all district property within the bounds of the district, including local property held by the district, according to the provisions of The Discipline and the laws of the state. All properties held by the district shall be held in trust for the use and benefit of the ministry and members of The Wesleyan Church and subject to its regulations and appointments as from time to time legislated and declared (4610).
- (9) Be represented in the lay and ministerial voting membership of the General Conference, if not under discipline.
- (10) Have recourse to a proper court of jurisdiction in any matters of controversy between itself and other district, local or general units or agencies of the denomination.
325. General Conference Membership. The General Conference shall be composed of an equal number of ordained ministers and lay members elected by the several districts, and each district superintendent and a lay delegate elected on the district superintendent’s behalf; the presidents of the educational institutions including Wesley Seminary; such officers serving the General Church as the General Conference may establish by legislation, provided that it shall at the same time enact provisions to secure such further representation as shall be necessary to continue the principle of equal lay and ministerial membership.
327. General Conference Delegates.
- (1) Each district, if not under discipline, shall be entitled to send one ordained minister and one lay member as delegates to the General Conference and additional ministerial and lay delegates according to membership on a basis of representation to be fixed by the General Conference.
- (2) The delegates shall be elected by ballot. The ministerial delegates must be ordained, and at the time of their election, as also at the time of General Conference, must be members of the district which elected them.
- (3) The lay delegates shall be chosen from the members of the Church in full relation within the bounds of the district they represent, and at the time of the General Conference they must be members of a church within the bounds of the district which elected them.
330. General Conference Sessions.
- (1) The General Conference shall meet quadrennially, except that in cases of emergency or other unusual circumstances the General Board shall have the power to shorten or lengthen the interval. Each session shall be held at a time of the year specified in The Discipline at a place determined by the General Board; in case of emergency the General Board shall have power to change the time.
- (2) The president or other elected officer of the General Conference whenever two-thirds of the districts shall request it, or the General Board, by such vote as the General Conference shall determine, shall call an extra session of the General Conference, fixing the place thereof and the time of assembling later than the next session of each district conference.
332. General Conference Presidency. The various sittings of the General Conference shall be presided over by the General Superintendent(s) in such order as these may determine; but in case no General Superintendent be present, the General Conference shall elect by ballot an ordained minister as president pro tem.
334. Other Officers. The General Conference shall elect by ballot such officers as it shall decide upon.
336. General Conference Quorum. At all times when the General Conference is in session, it shall require a majority of all the delegates elected by the districts to form a quorum to do business, but a smaller number may adjourn from time to time, until a quorum is obtained.
338. General Conference Voting. The ministers and lay members shall deliberate in the sessions of the General Conference as one body, but upon the final vote on any question except proposed amendments to the Constitution, on a call of one-fourth of the members, the house shall divide and ministers and lay members shall vote separately; and it shall require a majority vote of each branch to pass any question upon which the division has been called.
340. General Board.
- (1) There shall be a General Board to carry out the will of the General Conference during the quadrennium. Such Board shall be composed of the General Superintendent(s) and such other general officers as shall be designated by the General Conference together with an equal number of ordained ministers and lay members chosen by the General Conference to represent equitably the several administrative areas of the Church. The number of such representative members shall be determined by the action of the General Conference.
- (2) The General Board is the chief governing body of the Church in the interim of the General Conferences, and as such is empowered to perfect all plans necessary to the performance of its duties; it shall constitute or create the basic board of control of each and all of the Wesleyan societies and institutions now incorporated or hereafter incorporated under the laws of any state of the United States or of any province of Canada or under any other jurisdiction where such is permitted by the laws of said jurisdiction. The General Board of Administration shall have jurisdiction over mission units under the North American General Conference. It shall have the authority to approve a discipline for each unit achieving recognition as a fully established General Conference and for each mission unit. In so doing, it shall have the power to adapt the name of the Church within the restrictions of paragraph 205, and to adapt the provisions of The Discipline of the North American General Conference, including both constitutional and statutory law, provided that it does not contravene the Essentials of The Wesleyan Church. In authorizing the adaptation of the name for a unit achieving recognition as an established General Conference, it shall first consult with the highest interim administrative bodies of the other established General Conferences which are members of The International Conference of The Wesleyan Church.
350. The General Superintendency.
- (1) The General Conference shall elect by ballot from among the ordained ministers one or more General Superintendent(s), who shall be considered as the general spiritual and administrative leader(s) of the Church.
- (2) They shall be elected for a four-year term of office to begin on the date determined by the General Conference.
- (3) The General Superintendent(s) shall preside over the sittings of the General Conference and over the district conferences. At the district conference over which a General Superintendent is presiding, the district superintendent shall serve by being seated at the presiding officer’s table to advise and assist the chair. In the event a General Superintendent is unable to be present at a district conference, the district superintendent shall preside as chair, unless another representative appointed by the General Superintendent is present.
- (4) Further duties of the General Superintendent(s) shall be defined by the General Conference.