United Methodist Polity

This is part of a series of posts on my understanding of faith, ministry and the church. I would enjoy feedback and your response to my answers to these questions.

Question – Discuss your understanding of the primary characteristics of United Methodist polity.

Response – My response begins:

My understanding of the primary characteristics of United Methodist polity is primarily formed by the Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church. These characteristics include: itinerancy, conferences, superintendency, and connectionalism.

Ordained elders of The United Methodist Church are committed to an itinerant ministry. “They offer themselves without reserve to be appointed and to serve, after consultation as the appointive authority may determine” (The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church 2004, ¶333.1.). “Appointments to charges may be made at any time deemed advisable by the bishop and cabinet. Appointments are made with the expectation that the length of pastorates shall respond to the long-term pastoral needs of charges, communities, and pastors” (The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church 2004, ¶434). Pastoral appointments are set at Annual Conference “Appointments are to be made with consideration of the gifts and evidence of God’s grace of those appointed, to the needs, characteristics, and opportunities of congregations and institutions, and with faithfulness to the commitment to an open itineracy” (The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church 2004, ¶430).


  • How would you respond to this question?
  • Where do you agree with my response?
  • Where do you disagree with my response?

4 thoughts on “United Methodist Polity

  1. When I worked through this, I talked about connectionalism as the primary defining characteristic (bishops, superintendents, itinerancy, etc. all seem to be outgrowths of this central doctrine). I then wrote about some of the reasons I believe it facilitates mission for the churches and pastors who are connected.

  2. Matt – I like the approach that they all grow out of connectionalism. I may work that in to a revision of this work. Thanks for your thoughts!

  3. Henry Gwashure July 27, 2007 — 4:08 am

    Please can you furnish me with the characteristics of United Methodist Polity.I will be very grateful if i get those because i need to submit my assignment.

    thank you.

  4. Henry – I am sorry, but I will not be able to do your assignment for you. May God bless your journey of seeking to understand and learn about polity. I would be more than willing to discuss specific questions. Feel free to send me an email from the “About Me” page. Thanks!

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