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Many tasks are needed to effectively operate the local church such as:

  • ensuring that the paid staff are well treated and fairly compensated;

  • balancing income and expenditures;

  • maintaining the church buildings;

  • looking after the grounds;

  • scheduling and running church events;

  • and serving the needs of our members and our neighbors.


Task committees have been set up to meet these responsibilities. These positions offer opportunities to those who want to use their knowledge and experience to take care of the church. The United Methodist Church requires a minimum of five committees to manage the church:

  • Trustees

  • Finance

  • Parish administration (COPA)

  • Lay leadership

  • Staff/Pastor-Parish relations (SPRC)


Individual churches may also set up additional committees if they wish to do so. For example, Fairhaven has a worship committee  whose aim is to make sure that the worship service run smoothly and impart a deeply moving and worshipful spiritual experience. In addition, you can also get involved in several other nurture, outreach, and witness ministries.



Local Churches

Local Churches are communities of true believers under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. They are the redemptive fellowships where the Word of God is preached and the sacraments are duly administered by persons divinely called, according to Jesus Christ’s own appointment. Usually, each local church (or perhaps a group of a few small churches) is in the care of an ordained member of the clergy known as a pastoral charge. Under the discipline of the Holy Spirit, the church exists for the maintenance of worship, the edification of believers, the outreach to the community, and the engagement in the mission of making disciples for Jesus Christ.

At least once a year, each pastoral charge organizes a charge conference under the leadership of the district superintendent. This body is the ultimate decision-making organization within the local church given the authority to perform such functions as approving the annual budget as recommended by the Church Council (see below); recommending and approving candidates for ordained ministry; approving lay servants (e.g., those qualified to preach); and identifying and approving officers and members for major church committees such as trustees, finance, and parish council.


Districts are geographical and administrative subdivisions of an Annual Conference (see below) and usually consist of several tens of local charges under the guidance of a district superintendent. The number of districts is determined by the Annual Conference. The boundaries of the districts are determined by the bishop in consultation with the district superintendents. Fairhaven belongs to the Central Maryland District.

Annual Conference

The Annual Conference is the basic organizational unit in The United Methodist Church. An Annual Conference includes all United Methodist churches in a geographically defined area. The Baltimore-Washington conference is led by a bishop and contains eight districts encompassing a total of several hundred churches. The membership of the Annual Conference consists of an equal number of lay and clergy members, and at least one lay person from each pastoral charge is to be a member. Members of the Annual Conference have the right to vote on all constitutional amendments and to elect delegates  to General and Jurisdictional Conferences (see below). Members also establish the budget for the Annual Conference and vote on all matters related to the organizational life of its agencies and institutions. There are 58 annual conferences in the USA, and seven conferences overseas referred to as Central Conferences.

General Conference

The General Conference is the top policy-making body of The United Methodist Church and convenes once every four years. Its attendees consist of lay and clergy members from each Annual and Central conference. It can revise church law, as well as adopt resolutions on current moral, social, public policies and economic issues. It also approves plans and budgets for churchwide programs.

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