Lay Member to Annual Conference Session

A LAY MEMBER to Annual Conference Session (ACS), is elected by their congregation to represent the congregation at the yearly Annual Conference. Every recognized church is entitled to at least one lay member (pastors are clergy members to ACS). One can also be a lay member to Annual Conference by virtue of office, i.e., as a District Lay Leader, the Conference President of the United Methodist Women or Men, lay delegate or reserve lay delegate to Jurisdictional Conference, etc. (Refer to the Conference Journal for a complete list.)

The Role of the Lay Member of Annual Conference

The Discipline requires that the lay member of annual conference shall have been a professing member in good standing of The United Methodist Church for at least one year.

The lay member to annual conference:

  • Participates in the annual conference sessions and votes on all matters except those pertaining to ministerial relations. Annual conference sessions cover a time span of four or five days in June. The bishop occasionally calls extra sessions if there is emergent business.
  • Reports to the congregation, in the week following the annual conference session, and to the church council, at its next meeting after the close of the conference session. The report to the church council must be within three months of the close of the session.
  • Serves as a member of the staff/pastor-parish relations committee, church council, and finance committee.

Annual Conference: Two Meanings

Annual conference is a unique geographic area of The United Methodist Church. Each annual conference is assigned a bishop (sometimes called the episcopal leader) and elects a conference lay leader. Shared resources (including itinerant clergy) and policies connect all local churches within the annual conference.

Annual Conference Session (referred to as Annual Conference or ACS) is the annual meeting of the lay and clergy members of the geographical area. This meeting sets directions and budget for the area, and the bishop appoints clergy members to their place of service for the next year.

However, annual conference is also commonly, if improperly, used to refer to an annual all church charge conference, which is the gathering of local church members to elect local church officers, approve lay speaker applications and local ministerial candidates, fix the local church pastor's compensation, and conduct other local church business. Charge conferences can also be held at any time necessary to conduct business for which they are required, with the concurrence of the District Superintendent. All charge conferences are conducted by either the District Superintendent or a designated elder in full connection, who is not appointed to the local church.

Prepare for Annual Conference

Study the pre-conference materials that are submitted for action by the annual conference. These materials are available on the annual conference website.

To prepare, you should:

  • Attend any pre-conference district meetings and training sessions.
  • Understand your annual conference process for conducting business. For example, some conferences operate with Robert's Rules of Order (parliamentary procedure); other conferences operate with discernment processes and consensus. Your pastor or annual conference office can help you prepare before your first session. [California-Nevada Annual Conference has the annual conference journal posted at, which includes the Conference standing rules.] There is also a summary of parliamentary procedure terminology as well as some general consensus and discernment information at (Look for "Robert's Rules of order ...")
  • Develop a general knowledge of the Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church.