How To Be A Delegate

Many faithful United Methodists have asked the question, "how do I become a delegate to either Annual Conference, Jurisdictional Conference or General Conference?"

A delegate addresses General Conference in 2016

For laity, the process begins at the local church.

In order to vote on potential delegates, you must be named as a delegate to Annual Conference where the voting takes place.

While you do not need to be a delegate to Annual Conference in order to be voted as a delegate to Jurisdictional or General Conference, your name does need to be offered or you can nominate yourself.

To do this, simply fill out the laity nomination form.

Clergy have a similar nominating form.

Each annual conference is required to consist of an equal number of lay members and ministerial members. The vast majority of lay members of Annual Conferences are elected by pastoral charges to represent them at the sessions of Annual Conference.

Lay members may speak and vote on all items coming before the Annual Conference with the exception of those relating to ministerial membership, relationships, ordination and election of clergy delegates General Conference and Jurisdictional Conference. Lay delegates also vote on delegates to General Conference and Jurisdictional Conference

If you are interested in becoming a delegate, you are asked from both laity and clergy to fill out an informational form. These forms are located below and due March 31, 2019. The forms require a photo and will not be considered complete until a photo is received.  

Laity Form

Clergy Form

Carefully Consider Your Decision  

Being a delegate is demanding work.  Be sure you want to spend hours reading through over 1400 pages of instructions and legislation that you will receive, meeting with your delegation during the months preceding General Conference, and spending two weeks working on legislation.  You will also be part of the Jurisdictional delegation that will spend an additional week in July at Jurisdictional Conference in the summer. You will spend the first week of General Conference reviewing legislation. During the second week, delegates debate and vote on all items during the plenary session.  However, over 850 delegates will be vying for an opportunity to speak. General Conference and annual conferences provide some travel and per diem reimbursement, but they seldom cover all expenses. Pray about this decision.  

Become Active in Your Local Church

To be a lay delegate you must have been a member of the UMC for two years and active in a United Methodist congregation within the bounds of the annual conference for four years. So, teach a Sunday school class, lead a Bible study, become a youth leader, or serve as a chair of at least one committee or board.   Clergy delegates should continue their involvement at district and annual conference events, providing leadership when appropriate.  

Become a Member to Annual Conference

Clergy are automatically members to their Annual Conference.  However, laity must be elected by their local church at the annual charge conference in the fall, or made an “equalization member” by their district superintendent.  In every annual conference, the number of clergy delegates must equal the number of lay delegates.  Since retired clergy and those appointed beyond the local church are still clergy members of their annual conference, lay members are needed to balance the clergy numbers.  We call those lay members “equalization” members or "district lat large members".  Speak to your pastor about becoming a lay member or an equalization member to your annual conference. 

Become Active in Your Annual Conference

After being elected a member or designated an equalization member of your annual conference, or if you are a clergy member, be sure to attend conference events and let your district superintendent know you are interested in serving on an annual conference committee.  Volunteer to take minutes at meetings, join a mission team, or write an article for an annual conference publication.  

Some facts

  • The total number of delegates to a General Conference must consist of an equal number of clergy and lay delegates.
  • Lay delegates are elected by ballot by the lay members of their respective Annual Conferences. Clergy delegates are elected by ballot by the clergy members.
  • These elections are held during sessions of the Annual Conference in the year preceding the General Conference.
  • The number of delegates an Annual Conference is entitled to send to a General Conference is based on two factors: the number of clergy members of the Annual Conference and the number of members of local churches in the Annual Conference.
  • The Constitution of The United Methodist Church states that the membership of General Conference shall be no fewer than 600 and no more than 1,000. Since 1968 the practice has been to have the total number of delegates at or near the upper limit.


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