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Lay Member of Annual Conference Guide

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Lay Member of Annual Conference

Each congregation elects at least one lay member of annual conference. Equal numbers of clergy and laity are members of annual conference, so each congregation elects a number of lay members equal to the number of clergy for that congregation. Additional at-large equalization lay members are selected by the board of laity to reach the required number of laity, since retired clergy also attend annual conference. An effective lay member attends annual conference sessions and reports the actions taken to the congregation.

How does the voting and legislation process work?

To help you prepare, the Committee on the Annual Conference Session invites you to watch a brief light-hearted video that demonstrates the legislative process,"One Cookie At A Time!"  When it becomes available, be sure to also read all legislation and our Rules of Order so that you are fully prepared to participate. 

2019 Michigan Annual Conference Summary Video

A Three Part Guide for Lay Members of Annual Conference

This three-part guide is printable and may be helpful in any new (or seasoned) Lay Member of Annual Conference. It is available for all Local Church and Equalization members.

Part 1 - Overview

Part 2 - Registration & Legislation

Part 3 - Annual Conference is Here!

Group in Coffee Shop

The Michigan Annual Conference 2019

MAY 30 - JUNE 2, 2019


What does it take to be a bold and effective leader these days? When you experience bold and effective leadership, what do you notice? When you’re trying to be a bold and effective leader, what do you try to “stir up” from within?  We think it takes wisdom...and heart... and courage to be the leaders God calls us to be as we strive to make disciples for Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
Members of the Michigan Annual Conference will gather for a time of fellowship, worship and legislating during the 2019 Annual Conference at the Grand Traverse Resort & Spa, Thursday, May 30 – Sunday, June 2, 2019. The Michigan Conference will be a time of worship, learning and fellowship.
Registration opens March 1, 2019. Go to for more info.

What is Annual Conference?

The annual conference session is the annual meeting of the lay and clergy members of the geographical area, currently the state of Michigan. This session may include reports of past and ongoing work; adoption of future goals, programs and budgets; ordination of clergy members as deacons and elders; appointments of clergy members and election of delegates to Jurisdictional and General Conferences (every 4 years). The bishop presides over these meetings.


When and where is Annual Conference?

Annual conference usually covers a time span of three to five days and is typically in May or June. Next year, Annual Conference is May 28 - 31, 2020, in Traverse City, MI.

What is the role of the lay member of annual conference?

The lay member of annual conference, along with the pastor, interprets the work done by the annual conference session to the congregation. They are the liaisons between the congregation and the general church and represent the congregation in the actions taken at the annual conference sessions. The lay member of annual conference:

  • Participates in the annual conference sessions and votes on legislation;
  • Reports to the congregation after the close of the conference;
  • Serves as a member of the charge conference, church council, finance committee and staff/pastor parish relations committee.

Who attends Annual Conference?

It is important to recognize that The United Methodist Church is committed to providing an equal voice to both clergy and laity to help determine who we are and where we are going.

All ordained elders and deacons, as well as licensed local pastors currently serving a church are members to annual conference.

At least one lay person is elected by each charge (one or more local churches). Each charge with more than one clergy under appointment is entitled to as many lay members as it has clergy under appointment. Then there is a formula for larger churches who are entitled to more lay members based on the membership of the church.

In order to ensure an equal number of clergy and laity members the annual conference registrar calculates how many additional lay members are needed to achieve balance. These lay members, who are called equalization members, are identified in two ways.

Lay members serving in leadership positions at the conference level (on boards, councils and standing commissions among others) become members. 

Remaining slots are then selected by the Conference Board of Laity (typically divided at the district level).

All lay members are required to be a professing member for at least 2 years and an active participant in the church for at least 4 years at the time of his/her election.


Helpful Tips and Articles for Your Report

Maybe you didn't get the word that part of the responsibility of being the Lay Member to Annual Conference is to report back to your local church. No worries! There's no correct way to do it.

  • The most important thing is to share information with your congregation about your experience.
  • Check out this article, Why Your Church Needs Annual Conference Reports
  • Use the recap video produced by Michigan Conference Communications, shown to the left and link here:
  • Be sure to do it as soon as possible.
  • It doesn't need to be long.
  • Start with what you liked best about it. Try to tell them a story about an interaction you had with another person. Tell them how you felt the Spirit and where you saw God throughout the 4 days.
  • Be sure to tell them what was voted on and what the results were.
  • And remember if you give the report during worship, you may have visitors that day!
  • Below are helpful Annual Conference daily reports and summary articles that may help in your preparation.
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