The Wesleyan Church (TWC) was founded with the conviction that clergy and laity are called to work side by side in leading our churches toward greater health and wholeness.
Each local congregation is shepherded by a guiding group of lay leaders (The Discipline of The Wesleyan Church refers to this group as the Local Board of Administration or LBA) that is responsible for governing the church. Laity is also involved at the district level, too, in administration, financial management and church governance. At the denominational level, laity is involved on the General Board of Administration, which helps steer the denomination.
Every four years, General Conference provides another opportunity for lay delegates to partner with clergy in guiding TWC through important decisions that help districts, churches and disciple-making communities line up with God’s call.
These decisions — about church government, doctrinal statements and changes to TWC’s vision — are decided by those delegates who are selected by their peers to represent the transforming work of the Wesleyan churches in their own region.
“We have a representative form of government in The Wesleyan Church,” said Ron McClung, associate general secretary of TWC. “I hope people go to General Conference and see their voice and vote as contributing to the best interests of their own local church and of The Wesleyan Church. What passes as law in the church — the guidelines we go by — are determined by the delegates that go.”
Those elected to represent each district at General Conference are decided by the district conference. Every district is entitled to one lay delegate per every 750 adult members of their churches. Each district’s statistics will be based upon the previous year’s membership total (as most districts do not have their statistics until the spring, after delegates must be selected).
General Conference 2020 will have a voting assembly composed of 172 lay and 172 clergy delegates. The first delegate from each district is the district superintendent, while the remainder are voted upon by the district conference. In addition to district superintendents, other ex-officio members include the presidents of each college and university officially affiliated with TWC, along with the executive directors who serve at The Wesleyan Church Headquarters.
In addition to church governance, delegates play an important part in shaping the conversations TWC has regarding important issues in communities. Delegates bring their own life experiences, professional skills and local church interests to General Conference. But they also bring another important resource: insight about the hopes, longings and losses of their neighbors. Hearing those, and helping churches respond when God calls, is an important function of any gathering within TWC. Wesleyans everywhere are reminded that their own contribution to their local church may lie in faithful presence and listening to the people around them.
For more information about General Conference 2020, click here.
Rev. Ethan Linder is the hospitality, college and young adult pastor at College Wesleyan Church in Marion, Indiana.
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