How we operate
The local Methodist Church or Society is organised to meet the local needs within a structure defined in the Constitutional Practice and Discipline (CPD) of the Methodist Church - the Rule Book. Most decisions are taken in the local Church by the members.
CPD is updated annually with decisions being taken by the Methodist Conference which has representatives of all parts of the Methodist Church attending.
The country is divided into Districts (administrative bodies providing support for local churches and the stationing process) with each District containing a number of Circuits.
Circuits are the heart of Methodism with a group of local churches working together for mutual support. The weekly preachers are established at the Circuit level through a Plan and in most locations the Ministers, Deacons and Local Preachers are not identified with one or two churches but will lead worship all over the Circuit.
Within the local Church, which is an individual charity, key decisions are made by the Managing Trustees otherwise known as the Church Council. They make all the decisions about property, finance, spiritual development, etc. and are represented at the Circuit Meeting where decisions on the number of Ministers, projects, etc. are made. The members of Church Council are appointed at the General Church Meeting (normally annually) as are Stewards. The Stewards are responsible for any urgent decisions around the life of the fellowship and also for putting in place the arrangements for worship to take place. Whilst the General Church Meeting can discuss issues and express the membership's opinions, formal decisions are taken by the Church Council.
Each local society is free to delegate some of the responsibilities of the Church Council or Stewards to teams or committees. These may include the development of worship and liaison regarding the plan (an open Worship Consultation is common), management of the property and finance, youth work and outreach.
We have recently decided to concentrate the discussion and decision making into one combined meeting taking the form of an open Church Council where issues regarding worship and the life of the Church can be discussed, and, the relatively few, decisions can be taken.