Doctrines and Discipline of the Free Methodist Church of North America - 1939 Edition



I. Pastoral Charges, Quarterly and Annual Conferences

ARTICLE I. Pastoral Charges

     ¶ 47. The lay membership of the church shall be divided into local societies, one or more of which shall constitute a pastoral charge.

ARTICLE II. Districts and Quarterly Conferences

     ¶ 48. The pastoral charges embraced within each annual conference shall be grouped into districts, and a quarterly conference shall be organized in each district, composed of such official members of the several pastoral charges and invested with such powers as the General Conference shall direct.

ARTICLE III. Annual Conferences

     ¶ 49. The General Conference shall organize the work at large into annual conferences, of which the preachers (not being members of any local societies) shall be permanent members; and to which, at each session, one lay delegate shall be admitted from each pastoral charge, and in case there be more than one preacher in full membership appointed to a pastoral charge, such pastoral charge shall be entitled to one additional lay delegate for every such additional preacher.

II. The General Conference

ARTICLE I. Of Whom Composed

     ¶ 50. The General Conference shall be composed of the bishops and ministerial and lay delegates, to be chosen as hereinafter provided.

ARTICLE II. Ministerial Delegates

     ¶ 51. 1. Each annual conference shall be entitled to one ministerial delegate in the General Conference, and whenever an annual conference shall reach an aggregate of eight hundred full members, it shall be entitled to two ministerial delegates, and to an additional ministerial delegate for every subsequent six hundred full members, provided, however, that in no ease shall a preacher be counted more than once in the election of delegates.

     2. The ministerial delegates shall be elected by the ministers of the annual conference by ballot. Such delegates shall be elders, and at the time of their election, as also at the time of the General Conference. shall be members of the annual conference which elected them. 1

ARTICLE III. Lay Delegates

     ¶ 52. 1. Each annual conference shall be entitled to the same number of lay as of ministerial delegates in the General Conference.

     2. Lay delegates to the General Conference shall be elected by the lay delegates of the annual conferences they are respectively to represent. They shall be elected by ballot, from the members of the church in full relation within the bounds of the annual conferences to which they respectively belong, and must be members of the church within the conference which elected them at the time of the General Conference. 2

ARTICLE IV. Credentials

     ¶ 53. The secretaries of the several annual conferences shall furnish certificates of election to the delegates severally, signed by the president and secretary of each annual conference, as the credentials upon which they are to he admitted to the General Conference.

ARTICLE V. Sessions

     ¶ 54. I. The General Conference shall meet on the second Wednesday in June, in every fourth year from the year 1903 (which was the forty-first year of its existence as a delegated General Conference, it having previously met every fourth year from 1862, in October, and the change having been made by the General Conference of 1898), and at such time and place as shall have been determined by the preceding General Conference, or by the Board of Administration, which shall also have the power, in case of emergency, to change the time and place for the meeting of the General Conference.

     2. The bishop or bishops, or if there be none, the secretary of the General Conference, shall, whenever two-thirds of the annual conferences shall demand it, call an extra session of the General Conference, fixing the date thereof, and the time of assembling, later than the next ensuing session of each of the annual conferences.

ARTICLE VI. Presiding Officers

     ¶ 55. The General Conference shall elect, by ballot, one or more traveling elders to the office of bishop; and the bishops shall preside at various sittings of the General Conference in such order as they may determine; but in case no bishop be present, the General Conference shall elect, by ballot, an elder as president pro tern. In case of the election of a new bishop or bishops the term of office of such bishop or bishops shall begin at the close of the General Conference session at which they were elected.

ARTICLE VII. Missionary Bishop

     ¶ 56. The General Conference may elect a missionary bishop or bishops, whose duties and official relation shall be confined to the field to which they are respectively elected.

ARTICLE VIII. Other Officers

     ¶ 57. 1. The General Conference shall elect, by ballot, a secretary, an editor of the “Free Methodist,” an editor of our Sunday-school literature, a missionary secretary, and such other officers as it shall decide upon. The secretary of the General Conference shall continue in office until his successor is elected, and shall be the custodian of the General Conference records, journal and seal.

     2. The General Conference may elect, by ballot, one or more General Conference evangelists.

ARTICLE IX. Board of Administration

     ¶ 58. 1. The General Conference shall elect two traveling elders and two lay members from each of the General Conference missionary districts, a majority of whom shall be members of the General Conference which elected them, who with the bishops and the secretary of the General Conference shall constitute the Board of Administration.

     2. The Board of Administration shall constitute the Board of Conference Claimants, the General Missionary Board, the Board of Education, the Sunday School Board, the Board of Evangelism, the Board of Charities and Benevolences, the Church Extension Society, the Church and Parsonage Aid Society, and have general supervision of all of the activities of the Church during the intervals of the General Conference.


     ¶ 59. At all times when the General Conference is in session, it shall require two-thirds of all the delegates elected by the annual conferences to form a quorum to do business; but a smaller number may adjourn from time to time, until a quorum is obtained.


     ¶ 60. The members of the General Conference shall deliberate and vote as one body; nevertheless, upon the call of a majority of the members present and voting, the house shall divide; and it shall require a majority of the ministerial and of the lay delegates to pass any vote, or transact any business, provided, nevertheless, that for changes of the constitution, a vote of two-thirds of the General Conference shall be sufficient. 3

ARTICLE XII. Powers and Restrictions

     ¶ 61. The General Conference shall have full power to make rules and regulations for the Free Methodist Church, under the following limitations and restrictions:

  1. The General Conference shall not revoke, alter. or change our articles of religion, or the general rules of the united societies, or establish any standards or rules of doctrine contrary to our present existing and established standards of doctrine.
  2. It shall not change or alter any part or rule of our government, so as to do away with lay delegation, or an itinerant minister, or the general superintendency, or the free-seat system in our churches.
  3. It shall not have power to deprive our preachers or members of the right of trial by an impartial committee, or of the right of an appeal.

ARTICLE XIII. Amendments

     ¶ 62. The concurrent recommendation of three-fourths of all the members of the several annual conferences, who shall be present and vote on such recommendation, shall suffice to authorize the next ensuing General Conference, by a two-thirds vote, to alter any of the foregoing restrictive rules, except the last; and also whenever such alteration, or alterations, shall have been recommended first by a two-thirds vote of the General Conference, then so soon as three-fourths of the members of the several annual conferences, who were present and voted on such recommendation, or recommendations, shall have concurred therein, such alteration, or alterations, shall take effect. 4


1 See Paragraph 87.

2 See Paragraph 87.

3 The last part of Par. 60, providing that ‘for changes of the constitution a vote of two-thirds of the General Conference shall be sufficient,” applies to all o the constitution except the restrictive rules.

4  Par. 62 refers solely to the amendment of the three restrictive rules In Par. 61.