Regionalization: An Overview

Worldwide Regionalization

United Methodists are standing on a threshold of new opportunity as they prepare to vote on changing the church’s Constitution by adopting a plan for regionalization.

As Bishop LaTrelle Easterling and the Council of Bishops point out, regionalization is a pathway to manifest the world-wide nature of The United Methodist Church. It will allow United Methodists through the connection to best serve their unique communities as they share the love of God, make disciples of Jesus Christ and transform the world.

What is Regionalization?

Regionalization allows churches in different parts of the world to contextualize the rules that guides their ministries. Nine regional conferences will make up the denomination: one in the United States and eight in Africa, Europe and the Philippines. Each region will be given the ability to make decisions that will best support their work in their specific settings.

This ability to enact policies tailored to a specific region’s needs is already in place in the central conferences; regionalization will bring that ability to the U.S. as well. The U.S. regional conference will continue with five Jurisdictions. A committee will study the future of Jurisdictions.

Through worldwide regionalization, the gifts and resources of every region will be able to flourish. It is a next step in living into our covenant to be a worldwide connection.

What Regionalization Makes Possible

In this plan, regions can:

  • Draft and publish their own regional Book of Discipline, hymnals, books of worship and other liturgical resources
  • Set requirements for ordination and licensed ministry with respect to their needs and resources
  • Set standards for lay membership
  • Develop practices around marriage ceremonies, funerals and other rites that align with cultural contexts and laws in each country
  • Reorganize their annual conferences, districts or charge conferences to best serve their missional needs and convene their own judicial courts
  • Work with annual conferences to ensure policies and practices align with the laws in each country

It does not allow regions to adopt any policies that are in violation with the Constitution or that are contained in the General Book of Disciple, or alter the denomination’s Doctrinal Standards, Our Theological Task, The Ministry of All Christians or The Social Principles.

A General Book of Discipline that clarifies what is not adaptable by regional conferences is being developed. Members of the Baltimore-Washington and Peninsula Delaware Conferences will be given the opportunity to provide feedback this year on a current draft of a General Book of Discipline.

What’s the Next Step? 

Regionalization was passed by a 78 percent majority at the recent General Conference session. Now, the amendments must be ratified by annual conferences. Amendments must be supported by 2/3 of the total voting members of all the annual conferences combined. Depending upon when annual conferences meet, this process could last until 2026.

Members of the Baltimore-Washington and Peninsula-Delaware conferences will vote on regionalization at their 2025 Annual Conference Sessions. Bishop Easterling encourages church leaders and congregation to more fully explore the opportunities that regionalization bring to the church and the world.

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