How the Methodist Church Works

Our most important unit is the local church. Methodist churches are open to everyone. People are welcome to share in our worship and to join us in mission and service both within the local community and the world. All are invited to commit themselves to membership of the Methodist Church, they are accepted by the Church Council as members and confirmed in an act of public worship. However not everyone who worships in our churches is a member.

Our buildings are either referred to as churches or chapels. The governing body of the local church is the Church Council – a group of people elected by the members of the local church.

Local churches work together in circuits. The affairs of the Circuit are governed by the Circuit Meeting under the guidance of the Superintendent Minister. Most Methodist Ministers are appointed to a circuit and most of those serve a number of churches in the Circuit.

Circuits work together in Districts. The District exists to offer support and encouragement to the circuits and churches. It is a valuable network enabling resources to be shared and also enabling the Methodist Church to relate to county and regional structures (both church and secular). The Methodist District conducts its affairs through a District Synod under the guidance of its District Chairman (or District Chair) The District Synod is made up of all ministers serving in the district, representatives elected from the circuits and various officers appointed by the Synod. The Synod meets twice each year.

The Methodist Church in Great Britain is governed by The Methodist Conference. This meets annually and is made up primarily of representatives appointed by the Districts. Each year a President and a Vice-President are elected by the Conference. They are the representative leaders of the Methodist Church. The Methodist Church in Great Britain (England, Scotland, Wales, Channel Islands, Isle of Man and Shetland) is a member of The World Methodist Council.

The Cumbria District

Of the 33 Districts of the Methodist Church in Great Britain, Cumbria is the smallest one on the mainland numerically but one of the largest in area.

We have a Chair of the Cumbria district, Rev David Emison, three deputy chairs and the usual organisation of secretary, treasurer and so on. The district meets in elected synods twice a year, with an additional meeting for ministers and deacons. These make all major decisions and elect people to the annual Methodist Conference and separate Youth Conference. It has a Policy Committee which looks after things between synods.

Most work is done by the five district teams – Church Life, Ministries, Church and Society, Interchurch and Other Relationships and Services. Each of these has a coordinator responsible for the area and a number of people within each team who look after specific aspects.

As far as possible we want people to get on with the job they’ve been given, so we have as few committees as we can get away with, preferring to spend time on supporting God’s work throughout Cumbria.