How can a layperson attend Annual Conference as a voting member? There are two ways — election by a local church or selection by the district for Lay Equalization.
SARAH VOLLMER, Annual Conference Registrar
ANNETTE ERBES, Michigan Conference Lay Leader
LAURA WITKOWSKI, Associate Director for Lay Leadership Development
Can you believe it is already time to start thinking about the Michigan Annual Conference 2022?
One of the jobs of the Annual Conference Registrar each year is to recalculate the number of lay members to the annual conference allotted to each church/charge. These numbers are calculated by using our conference rules along with the alignments and memberships reported as of December 31, 2020. Equal numbers of clergy and laity are members of the annual conference, so each congregation elects a number of lay members equal to the number of appointed clergy for that congregation. Additional lay equalization members are selected by the Board of Laity to reach the required number of laity since retired clergy also attend the annual conference.
At last year’s annual conference there was a change made to the Conference Rules of Order in the distribution of lay members to the annual conference. This change moves more of the representation from the equalization members invited by the Board of Laity to the local church. This will mainly impact multiple point charges as each church in a charge is now given at least one (1) lay member to the annual conference, further empowering the voice of the local church.
These lay member numbers were emailed to all churches and appointed clergy in early September. If you have questions about the number of lay member spots your church has received, please check with your church office or pastor.
Because of this rule change, there are now fewer lay equalization member positions than in previous years. If you are interested in serving as a lay equalization member, watch for communication from your district lay leader on how to apply to be a lay equalization member and the corresponding application deadlines. Please note, all of your church’s allotted lay member spots must be filled before you would be able to be considered for a lay equalization member spot.
What are the requirements to serve as a lay member to the annual conference?
In order to serve in this role, you must be a lay member of The United Methodist Church for two (2) years and an active participant in The United Methodist Church for at least four (4) years prior to your election (this is waived for those under age 30). More information about this can be found in The Book of Discipline of The UMC ¶32.
How can I attend the annual conference as a voting member?
There are two ways laity can attend the annual conference as voting members. The first is by being elected by the local church to serve as a lay member to the annual conference. The second way is by applying through the Michigan Conference Board of Laity for a lay equalization member spot.
How do I become a lay equalization member?
Be on the lookout for communication from your district lay leader and district office regarding the lay equalization member application process and the application deadline. Your district lay leader will then let you know if you were selected to serve in this role and if that is the case, you will then be given information on how to register for the annual conference. (Please note that the application to be a lay equalization member to the annual conference is separate from registering for the annual conference.)
If I have attended the annual conference as a lay equalization member in the past, do I need to apply each year?
Yes! Each year the number of lay equalization spots allotted to the Board of Laity for distribution changes. Applying annually also makes space for new voices to be able to participate in the annual conference. Please know that a spot is not guaranteed until your district lay leader communicates that you have been selected to serve in this role.
Why do some churches have more lay member spots than others?
The number of lay members must equal the total number of clergy (active and retired). The conference registrar uses our Michigan Conference Rules of Order which includes items such as church membership and the number of clergy appointed to the church/charge to determine how many spots are allotted to each church. For detailed information, please refer to our Michigan Conference Rules of Order.
Serving as a lay member to the annual conference is a vital way to equip local churches for ministry while celebrating our United Methodist connection, as together we seek to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. If you have an interest in serving as a lay member to the annual conference, please engage in conversation with your pastor or district lay leader to learn more. Additional information about the annual conference can be found in the Lay Leadership Toolbox.