Structure of the Methodist Church

The Methodist Church is Episcopal

This means that it depends on an administration that includes bishops. The following is a brief explanation of the Methodist Structure – and a link to how you can learn more about each. The information here comes from the United Methodist Church’s Main Site.

Methodist Bodies

The Local Church

Local churches are led by a pastor. This pastor can be full time, part time, or a member of the laity (that is not ordained). Individual churches or a groups of churches are then classified as a charge

In the United Methodist Church a charge is organized under and subject to the Book of Discipline, with a single governing body called a charge conference, to which a minister is appointed as pastor in charge. Charges are different from churches or congregations as they may encompass more than one church or congregation.

First Church’s Pastor is the Reverend Douglas Hoffman and clicking here you can see the Committees and Teams which make up our administration.

The District

Each local church is part of a district, which is an administrative grouping of churches in a geographic area. Learn more.

First Church is a member of the Cumberland-Hagerstown District, and our District Superintendent is Pastor John Wunderlich III.


The annual (sometimes referred to as ‘regional’) conference is described by the church’s Constitution and (other parts of the) Book of Discipline as the “basic unit” of the church. In the United States, a conference may cover an entire state, only part of the state, or even parts of two or more states.

In the U.S., the conference has a central office and professional staff that coordinate and conduct ministry and the business of the conference. It likely has a director of connectional ministries, treasurer, directors of program areas (such as camping), communications director, and other staff as deemed appropriate for the annual conference and as required by the Book of Discipline.

First Church is a part of the Baltimore-Washington Conference which is led by Bishop LaTrelle Easterling.

Methodist Gatherings

General Conference

As the primary legislative body, General Conference is the only entity with the authority to speak on behalf of the entire United Methodist Church. The General Conference meets every four years to consider the business and mission of the church. An equal number of lay and clergy delegates are elected from United Methodist conferences around the world to decide matters of policy and procedure for the denomination. Learn more.

Jurisdictional Conferences

There are five geographic jurisdictions, or regions, in the United States, which are comprised of eight to 15 annual conferences each. Learn more.

Annual Conferences

The annual conference is a geographical entity, an organizational body (made up of elected lay and clergy members), and a yearly meeting. It is the fundamental body of the church (Book of Discipline, ¶ 11). Learn more.