Chapter 2: District Conference
1075. A district conference is the chief governing body of a district, exercising such powers as are delegated to it in the Constitution and by the General Conference as set forth in The Discipline of The Wesleyan Church.
1. Plan of Representation
1080. The district conference, as required by the Constitution (317), shall be composed of an equal number of ministerial members and lay members as voting members, chosen in a way that maintains the principle of equal representation, and other non-voting members as listed herewith.
a. Voting Members
1083. Ministers. The ministerial voting members of the district conference are those who meet the following requirements:
- (1) Ordained ministers under appointment (1240:1:A:1-8), retired (1240:1:B; 3370), on reserve (1240:1:C; 3360) or on educational leave (1240:1:D; 3350:1).
- (2) Licensed ministers who are ordained ministers-elect (317)
- (3) Commissioned or licensed ministers who are pastors, associate pastors or assistant pastors of churches in that district (317; 1240:2:A; 1240:3:A; 3059; 3030).
- (4) Ministerial members of the district board of administration who are not voting members by some other right (317).
- (5) Ordained ministers (including licensed ministers who are ordained ministers-elect) who have applied for transfer to another district but whose processes of transfer out of the district are yet incomplete.
1086. Laity. The lay members of the district conference with voting rights are those elected as delegates by the churches or circuits of that district (315:7; 317; 1100–1109) and the lay members of the district board of administration (317). The total number of lay members with voting rights shall be determined as set forth in 1100:1 while maintaining the principle of equal representation of the ministry and the laity. Each established church or circuit is entitled to a minimum of one lay delegate as its constitutional right (315:7; 503), and, according to its number of members, to additional lay delegates allotted by the district board of administration (1100:1-5). A developing church which is judged to be qualified may be allotted one lay delegate (510:5; 1100:2; 1103).
b. Nonvoting Members
1090. The nonvoting members of the district conference, with a voice but without a vote, are (317):
- (1) Ordained ministers without appointment (1240:1:E; 3380).
- (2) Ordained ministers in process of transfer from another denomination (3104; 3390).
- (3) Commissioned or licensed ministers who are not voting members of the district conference as listed in 1083:2-4, including those in process of transfer from another denomination (3104).
- (4) Ministerial students (3015:3b; 3350:2).
- (5) Commissioned and licensed special workers (1240:5:A, B, C; 3460-3470).
- (6) Commissioned lay missionaries (1240:5:D).
- (7) Supply pastors (1240:5:E; 3260:4).
- (8) Interim pastors, unless qualifying as a voting member by some other right (1083; 3261).
- (9) Ordained ministers, commissioned ministers, and licensed ministers whose process of transfer into the district from other districts are pending completion.
2. Forfeiture of Representation
1095. A local church or circuit which is under discipline as provided for in the General Board Policy on Church Discipline shall forfeit all rights to representation by a lay delegate in the district conference (315:7).
3. The Election of Lay Delegates
1100. Allotment. The district board of administration shall assign to each church or circuit the specific number of lay delegates which it shall elect as its representatives to the district conference, in keeping with the provision in 1086 for the total number of lay delegates and subject to the following regulations:
- (1) The district board of administration shall first determine the total number of lay delegates required for the next session of the district conference (1086), which shall initially equal the number of ministerial voting members eligible at the time such determination is made (1083:1-5). The district board of administration may adjust this number of lay delegates downward to be not fewer than the highest number of ministerial voting members who answered the roll call in each of the last three district conferences.
- (2) One lay delegate shall first be allotted to each pastoral charge (315:7; 528:3; 317; 503), including any developing churches deemed qualified (510:5; 1086).
- (3) One shall be subtracted from the number needed to balance the ministerial vote for each lay member of the district board of administration.
- (4) The number of lay delegates yet required for the next district conference shall be allotted to the pastoral charges according to a ratio of representation. In fixing the ratio of representation, the members as listed on the statistical report of the preceding district conference, shall be considered. The district board of administration shall establish the ratio of representation and apply it in such a manner as to assign the exact number of delegates to be elected by each pastoral charge.
- (5) The district shall promptly notify each pastor of the exact number of lay delegates allotted to that particular pastoral charge.
1103. Election. The lay delegates to the district conference shall be elected at any duly called session of the local church conference, by ballot, and by a majority vote of those members present and voting (823; 965). In the case of a developing church, election shall be by the local advisory council, subject to approval by the district superintendent (510:3,5). A person accepting election as a delegate has an obligation to attend faithfully the entire district conference session, unless hindered by unforeseen and justifiable circumstances. The local church secretary shall promptly forward a certified list of the elected lay delegates to the district secretary.
1106. Alternate Delegates. A sufficient number of alternate lay delegates having the same qualifications (1109) shall be elected in the same manner and at the same session as the delegates (1103), and shall fill any vacancies in the order of their election. Whenever an alternate delegate is required to serve, the pastor or local church secretary shall certify this appointment to the district secretary.
1109. Qualifications. A lay delegate must be a member who meets the leadership qualifications (260-268; 558) and in good standing of the pastoral charge represented, both at the time of election and at the time of the district conference. An ordained, commissioned, or licensed minister may not be elected or serve as a lay delegate.
1112. Annual Session. The district conference shall meet annually at a place chosen by the district board of administration and at a time as decided upon by the General Superintendent in cooperation with the district board of administration (1233:6). The district secretary shall notify in writing all ministerial voting members, pastoral charges, and nonvoting members of the time and the place at least sixty days before the scheduled opening. Whenever an emergency shall require a change in the plans adopted, the district board of administration may declare that such an emergency exists and authorize the necessary changes.
1115. Reconvened Session. The district conference may be reconvened at any time during the year by a two-thirds majority vote of the district board of administration and the approval of the General Superintendent. A reconvened session shall also be ordered by the district board of administration when requested to do so by the General Board, its Executive Board, or the General Superintendent. The district board of administration shall designate the place and, in cooperation with the General Superintendent, establish the date, which shall be at least thirty days after the reconvened conference is announced. The district shall notify in writing all ministerial voting members, pastoral charges, and nonvoting members of the time, place, and purpose of the reconvened session. The district conference shall have the same rights and powers in a reconvened session as in the annual session.
D. Organization and Procedures
1120. The Chair. The General Superintendent, or a representative appointed by the General Superintendent, shall preside over the district conference, assisted by the district superintendent in the manner provided for in the Constitution (350:3). When neither the General Superintendent nor the appointed representative is present, the district superintendent shall preside or take the responsibility for the same. If none of the foregoing is present, the district conference shall elect from among its ordained ministers a chair pro tem.
1123. The Secretary. The district secretary shall be the secretary of the district conference ex officio. The district secretary shall accurately record the proceedings and preserve them in permanent form as prescribed by The Discipline (1178), and perform any other duties as shall be required by the district conference.
1126. Rights. The rights of the district conference are declared in the Constitution (323:1-10; 325; 327:1; 350:3; 360:3c, e; 375:2, 4, 6; 385).
1129. Quorum. A majority of all the ministerial voting members and lay delegates of the district conference (1083-1086) shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business.
1132. Delegates. Once a delegate has been seated at the annual district conference, an alternate delegate cannot thereafter be seated in place of the previously seated delegate.
1135. Voting (317). The ministerial and lay members of the district conference shall deliberate and transact business as one body. However, on the final vote on any question, one-fourth of the members may call for a divided vote. The house shall then be divided, and the ministerial and lay members shall vote separately, with a majority vote of each branch required to pass the question on which the division has been called.
1138. Rules of Order. District conference business shall be conducted according to the current edition of Robert’s Rules of Order, Newly Revised, except when otherwise ordered by The Discipline (1156).
1141. Suspension of Rules. The district conference may by two-thirds vote suspend any rules of order for a certain item of business, provided such a suspension does not contravene The Discipline or other General Conference legislation.
1144. Appeals on Questions of Order. The chair shall decide all questions of order, subject to an appeal to the district conference body. If any matter is ruled out of order by the chair on the basis that it is unconstitutional or in violation of The Discipline, the decision of the chair may be appealed by any member of the district conference. If the appeal is seconded, the chair shall clearly state the question and the reasons for the decision, and the one moving the appeal shall state the reasons for the appeal. The vote shall then be taken without debate. A two-thirds vote of the district conference, present and voting, shall be required to overrule the decision of the chair. If the chair is overruled, the action of the district conference shall be suspended until a ruling shall be given by the General Superintendent as provided for in 2064.
1147. Legislation. Rules and resolutions adopted by a district conference shall continue in force until amended or rescinded, unless such actions are by nature temporary or unless an action of the district conference is declared unconstitutional or contrary to The Discipline as set forth in 2064 and the General Board Policy on Church Discipline 5445:2 (323:6).
1150. Resolutions. Resolutions may be submitted to the district conference by a local church conference, the district board of administration, or any three voting members of the district conference with their signatures.
1153. Memorials. All resolutions intended for eventual recommendation by the district conference to the General Conference, including changes in The Discipline and any other proposals, shall be designated as “memorials” (1557-1560). Anyone authorized to submit a resolution may also submit a memorial to be passed upon by the district conference.
1156. Procedure. All resolutions shall be submitted as directed by the district conference. The district board of administration shall be responsible to review each resolution or memorial as to its origin (1150), clarity, relationship to The Discipline and other existing legislation of the General Conference or district conference, and shall report them to the district conference together with their recommendations. A properly submitted resolution cannot be withheld from the conference body unless withdrawn by its authors or declared out of order by the chair of the district conference as contravening The Discipline. The district secretary shall present any resolutions in question to the district conference chair for a ruling before presenting them on the conference floor. The district conference may by a two-thirds vote suspend the requirement that a resolution must first be reviewed and immediately proceed to consider and vote upon said resolution.
1159. The district conference shall have such committees as are required by The Discipline, and may create and define the duties of such other committees as are deemed necessary.
a. District Conference Action Committee
1165. A district conference may establish a district conference action committee (1180:9) that shall perform the functions of a resolutions committee. It shall consist of the district superintendent, the district treasurer, and from three to nine other members elected by the conference with due consideration for lay representation (cf. 1175:2). The district conference may delegate the election of the committee members to the district board of administration. The district superintendent shall be the chair or shall appoint another to serve instead, and the committee shall elect a secretary and other officers as deemed necessary.
1168. The duties of the district conference action committee are:
- (1) To receive all resolutions and memorials for the district conference, to review them, and to report them to the district conference with the committee’s recommendation except as provided for in 1233:9 (1150-1156).
- (2) To conduct and report on any research or investigation regarding the merits of proposed district legislation as requested by the district conference or district board of administration, or as deemed necessary by the committee.
- (3) To assign members of the committee to study, prepare, and plan any phase of the committee’s work and report back to the committee.
- (4) To review the standing rules of the district in order to make recommendations to the district conference concerning the alignment of such rules with General Conference legislation, and concerning any other necessary amendments (1180:5).
- (5) To provide, if possible, all delegates to the district conference with copies of resolutions or memorials, properly classified, at least ten days before the opening of the district conference.
b. District Conference Nominating Committee
1172. District Conference Nominating Committee. Each district shall have a district conference nominating committee consisting of the district superintendent as chair, and two or more ministers, and an equal number of lay members elected by the district conference (1180:9). The elected members of the nominating committee shall not succeed themselves and may not be reelected until after a lapse of one year. The committee shall organize itself. It shall serve for one year and shall meet as called by the chair.
1175. The duties of this committee shall be determined by the district conference and may include the following to:
- (1) Present nominations for the district secretary, members-at-large on the district board of administration, and each elected delegate to the General Conference.
- (2) Give special consideration for the nomination of persons that reflect the full scope of the district’s geographical, ethnic, and gender constituency.
- (3) Present any other nominations as shall be requested by the district conference.
5. The District Conference Journal
1178. The district conference journal shall contain the complete and accurate record of the proceedings of the district conference, prepared by the district secretary who shall have the duty to:
- (1) Have it certified by the district superintendent.
- (2) Arrange the journal as far as possible according to the table of contents and general format approved by the General Board.
- (3) See that it contains a complete directory for the district as set forth in 1332:8.
- (4) Deliver annually copies of the district journal in such quantities and format as needed for the offices in the World Headquarters.
E. Duties and Powers
1180. The duties and powers of the district conference as set forth in the Constitution (1126) and as authorized by the General Conference are to:
Relating to the Constitution
- (1) Propose an amendment to the Constitution, by a two-thirds vote, to be submitted to the General Conference as a memorial (385; 1560; 1590:1) or propose an amendment to the Constitution to be submitted first to the other district conferences (385; 1590:2).
- (2) Vote on the ratification of an amendment to the Constitution adopted by the General Conference (385; 1590:1) and vote on a proposed amendment to the Constitution originating in another district conference (385; 1590:2).
Relating to the General Conference
- (3) Adopt memorials to the General Conference for proposed changes in The Discipline or for other legislation (1153; 1557-1560; 1565).
- (4) Elect delegates to the General Conference as set forth in 1503-1526 (1175:1).
- (5) Review all standing rules of the district and bring them into harmony with the Constitution, with other provisions of The Discipline as currently revised and amended, and with other General Conference legislation (323:6).
- (6) To request a special session of the General Conference in concurrence with two-thirds of the district conferences (330:2; 1532).
Relating to the District Conference
- (7) Receive the appointed general representative to preside over the district conference whenever the General Superintendent is not present (350:3; 1935).
- (8) Receive a report concerning the interests and progress of the denomination from the General Superintendent or if the General Superintendent is not present, from the general representative.
- (9) Authorize a district conference nominating committee, designate its number of members, elect such members, and determine its duties as set forth in 1172-1175.
- (10) Space reserved.
Relating to District Administration
- (11) Take charge of all ordained, commissioned, or licensed ministers, ministerial students, commissioned and licensed special workers, missions, developing churches, pastoral charges, and other district work within its bounds, except when the district is under discipline (360:3c, e), and except for those members of the district who are elected as general officials (1800), missionaries appointed under the Global Partners Division (2272), and others who are amenable only to the General Board for their official duties (323:1; 360:2; Gen. Bd. Policy on Ch. Disc. 5150; 5203).
- (12) Receive a report concerning their official duties from the following: the district superintendent (1310:27), the assistant district superintendent(s) (1323:5), the district treasurer (1337:8), and any others as desired by the district conference.
- (13) Consider the numerical and financial progress of the district by receiving a complete statistical and financial report as compiled and submitted by the district secretary.
- (14) Take such actions and adopt such rules as it shall judge necessary to promote the interests and well-being of The Wesleyan Church within the bounds of the district, and to amend or rescind the same, provided that it shall not add to or take from any provision of the Constitution or other provisions of The Discipline, and provided that any three members may appeal an action of the district conference as set forth in 323:6 (2061).
- (15) Adopt financial plans which will provide for the support of the district work, and for the payment of the district obligation for the United Stewardship Fund (2015:1), assigning to each church its share of these obligations (2015:2; 1233:11).
- (16) Space reserved.
- (17) Determine the dates for the district fiscal year, which shall be binding on all churches, boards, committees, and organizations within the district for the keeping of records and reports.
- (18) Authorize employment, if desired, of one or more assistant district superintendents (1320) as full-time district official(s).
- (19) Authorize the incorporation of the district as provided for in 4100-4150. After such incorporation, the district board of administration shall carry out the will of the district conference concerning the holding of district and local church property (4680), and shall have power, on its own resolution, to acquire, purchase, manage, sell, exchange, mortgage, deed in trust, pledge, rent, lease, and convey any property, real, personal, or mixed, as may be necessary or convenient for the purpose of the corporation.
- (20) Elect, in states or provinces where local laws prohibit such incorporation, or where the law requires the property to be held by trustees, a district board of trustees from among the members of the district board of administration, which shall carry out the will of the district conference concerning the holding of district and local church property (4680), and which shall carry out its duties as set forth in 1365 (4500-4630; 4800-4880).
- (21) Delegate any of its duties not restricted to the district conference by the Constitution.
Relating to Churches, Ministers, and Lay Workers
- (22) Authorize the establishing of a mission (537), a developing church (510), a church (518), the reclassification of a church as a developing church (518:7; 1233:26); to declare a church as discontinued or abandoned (4730); and to hear a report from the district superintendent of the organization of new churches (520:6; 1310:14). Any established church that is not under discipline may not be discontinued without a corroborating vote of the local church conference (655:12; 1233:26).
- (23) Determine the boundaries of each pastoral charge within the district (323:5; 1233:10c; 4750).
- (24) Receive and pass the recommendations of the district board of administration concerning the pastoral agreements, appointments, and district conference relations, as follows (1233:10):
- (a) Approve the pastoral agreements entered into between the pastoral charges and the ministers, or to alter such an agreement, or to veto the action of the pastoral charge and appoint another pastor, provided that any such alteration or veto shall be for reasons as set forth in the Constitution, and shall be voted on as a separate action by the district conference (323:1-2; 697).
- (b) Appoint a pastor to those pastoral charges not yet supplied at the time of the district conference or whenever requested to do so by a local church (708); or to delegate such appointment to the district board of administration, and to appoint an interim pastor (3261:2); or to employ a qualified person as a supply pastor when deemed necessary (3260).
- (c) Appoint each minister to the proper category of service or other appointment (3250-3391), appointing each ordained minister not included on the appointed list (1240:1:A) to the proper district conference relation as retired, on reserve, on educational leave, without appointment (1240:1:B–E), or in process of transfer (3104); appointing each commissioned or licensed minister to the proper category of service (1240:2:A–B; 1240:3:A–B; 3255-3391) or in the process of transfer (3104); to license as ministerial students those persons so qualified (1240:4; 3015:1); and to appoint as commissioned or licensed special workers, designating their particular ministry (3450-3480), those who have been granted the proper commissions and licenses (1240:5:A–C) or to list them as in process of transfer (1240:5:B); and to appoint commissioned lay missionaries.
- (25) Grant in concurrence with the General Board prior approval to a local church conference for post-secondary education in terms of an institute, junior college, or college-level programs (655:17; 1655:36).
- (26) Elect to ordination or for commissioning as a minister a candidate the district conference deems qualified (3070), after receiving a report from the district board of ministerial development (1390:5) which shall be acted upon as a separate item of business.
- (27) Grant a license, commission, recognition, or restoration, in keeping with the requirements of The Discipline, after receiving the report and recommendations from the district board of ministerial development (1390:5), as follows:
- (a) A recognition as ordained minister in process of transfer to an ordained minister being received from another denomination (3104), and a recognition as an ordained minister of The Wesleyan Church in full standing when all requirements have been met (3104:4-5).
- (b) A district ministerial license, the granting of which shall become effective when the person receives appointment as set forth in 3033:7 and 3040:3 (1180:24c; 1233:10).
- (c) A recognition of a commissioned or licensed minister being received from another denomination as in process of transfer (3104) and a recognition of such commissioned or licensed ministers in full standing when all requirements are met (3104).
- (d) A license as a ministerial student for those who are qualified (3015:1; 3350).
- (e) A license or commission as special worker, designating the particular ministry (3450-3480), or a recognition of a commissioned special worker or the equivalent thereof in process of transfer from another denomination, and subsequent recognition as a commissioned special worker in full standing when all requirements have been met (3470).
- (f) A commission as lay missionary (3490).
- (g) Any other license or commission as shall be authorized by The Discipline.
- (h) The restoration or reinstatement of ordination, commission, or license as set forth in 3120–3124; 3480; Gen. Bd. Policy on Ch. Disc. 5230-5248 (1390:4).
- (28) Receive and pass on an annual service report, through the district board of ministerial development as set forth in 1390:7-9, from each ordained, commissioned, and licensed minister, ministerial student, and commissioned and licensed special worker; to receive an explanation from the district board of ministerial development relative to each person whose report has been found unsatisfactory, and to vote on the continuation of such person for appointment, which shall require a two-thirds vote of confidence for approval (1390:9).
Relating to the Election of Officials and Committees
- (29) Elect, by ballot and by majority vote, an ordained minister to the office of district superintendent for a term of four years (1303:2, 4). Reelection thereafter shall also be for a term of four years or for an extended call (1303:2, 4).
- (30) Elect, by ballot and by majority vote, a district secretary (1330; 1175:1) and members-at-large of the district board of administration (1203-1206).
- (31) Space reserved.
- (32) Space reserved.
- (33) Space reserved.
- (34) Elect a district board of review as set forth in paragraph 1370 (Gen. Bd. Policy on Ch. Disc. 5218).
Relating to Church Law and the Judiciary
- (35) Request, by a two-thirds majority vote, a ruling on a point of Wesleyan Church law or an interpretation of The Discipline from the General Superintendent (2061:1); or appeal, by a two-thirds majority vote, such a ruling to the General Board of Review (2061:3; Gen. Bd. Policy on Ch. Disc. 5445:2).
- (36) Appeal, by a two-thirds majority vote, a decision of the General Superintendent on the legality of an action by the district conference, a district board or committee, or a district official, to the General Board of Review (375:2; 2061; 323:6; Gen. Bd. Policy on Ch. Disc. 5445:2). All appeals must be filed with the Executive Director of Communication and Administration within sixty days after the date of the official decision on the matter.
- (37) Adopt, by a two-thirds majority vote, a complaint against the General Conference or another district and order its presentation to the General Board of Review for settlement (375:4, 6; Gen. Bd. Policy on Ch. Disc. 5445:4); and to adopt such a complaint, by a majority vote, against the General Board to be presented to the General Board of Review for settlement (323:10).
- (38) Appeal, by a two-thirds majority vote, a judgment of the General Board of Review to the General Conference for final settlement (323:10; 380; Gen. Bd. Policy on Ch. Disc. 5450). All appeals must be filed with the Executive Director of Communication and Administration within sixty days after the date of the official decision on the matter.
- (39) Exercise judicial powers according to the provisions of the General Board Policy on Church Discipline (5200-5248; 5300-5325).