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Of the General and Annual Conferences. Ir is desired that all things be considered on these occasions, as in the immediate presence of God: that every person speak freely whatever is in his heart.
Quest. 1. How may we best improve our time at the conferences?
Answ. 1. While we are conversing, let us have an especial care to set God always efore us.
2. In the intermediate hours, let us redeem all the time we can for private exercises. 3. Therein let us give ourselves prayer for one another, and for a blessing on our labour.
Of the General Conference.
Quest. 2. Who shall compose the General Conference, and what are the regulations and powers belonging to it?
Answ. 1. The General Conference shall be composed of one member for every seven members of each Annual Conference, to be, appointed either by seniority or choice, at the discretion of such annual conference: yet so that such representatives shall have travelled at least four full calendar years from the time
that they were received on trial by an annual conference, and are in full connexion at the time of holding the conference.
2. The General conference shall meet on the first day of May, in the year of our Lord 1812, in the city of New-York, and thenceforward on the first day of May once in four years perpetually, in such place or places as shall be fixed on by the General Conference from time to time: but the general Superintendents, with or by the advice of all the annual conferences, or if there be no general Superintendent, all the annual conferences respectively shall have power to call a General Conference, if they judge it necessary, at any time.
3. At all times when the General Conference is met, it shall take two thirds of the representatives of all the annual conferences to make a quorum for transacting business.
4. One of the general Superintendents shall preside in the General Conference; but in case no general Superintendent be present, the General Conference shall choose a president pro tempore.
5. The General Conference shall have full powers to make rules and regulations for our Church, under the following limitations and restrictions, viz.
1. The General Conference shall not revoke, alter, or change our articles of religion, nor establish any new standards or rules of doctrine contrary to our present existing and established standards of doctrine.
2. They shall not allow of more than one representative for every five members of the annual conference, nor allow of a less number than one for every seven.
3. They shall not change or alter any part or rule of our government, so as to do away Episcopacy, or destroy the plan of our itinerant general superintendency.
4. They shall not revoke or change the general rules of the United Societies.
5. They shall not do away the privileges of our ministers or preachers of trial by a committee, and of an appeal: neither shall they do away the privileges of our members of trial before the society, or by a committee, and of an appeal.
6. They shall not appropriate the produce of the Book Concern, nor of the Charter Fund, to any purpose other than for the benefit of the travelling, supernumerary, superannuated and worn out preachers, their wives, widows, and children. Provided, nevertheless, that upon the concurrent recommendation of three-fourths
of all the members of the several annual conferences, who shall be present and vote on such recommendation, then a majority of two-thirds of the general conference succeeding shall suffice to alter any of the above restrictions, excepting the first article and also, whenever such alteration or alterations shall have been first recommended by two-thirds of the general conference, so soon as three-fourths of the members of all the annual conferences shall have concurred as aforesaid, such alteration or alterations shall take effect.
Of the Annual Conferences.
Quest. 3. Who shall attend the yearly conferences?
Answ. All the travelling preachers who are in full connexion, and those who are to be received into full connexion.
Quest. 4. Who shall appoint the times of holding the yearly conferences?
Answ. The bishops; but they shall allow the annual conferences to sit a week at least. Quest. 5. Who shall appoint the places of holding the annual conferences?
Answ. Each annual conference shall appoint the place of its own sitting.
Quest. 6. What is the method wherein we usually proceed in the yearly conferences? Answ. We inquire,
1. What preachers are admitted on trial? 2. Who remain on trial?
3. Who are admitted into full connexion? 4. Who are the Deacons ?
5. Who have been elected and ordained Elders this year?
6. Who have been elected, by the suffrages of the general conference, to exercise the episcopal office, and superintend the Methodist Episcopal Church in America? 7. Who have located this year?
8. Who are the supernumeraries?*
9. Who are the superannuated or worn out preachers?
Every superannuated preacher, who may reside without the bounds of the conference of which he is a member, shall annually forward to his conference a certificate of his Christian and ministerial conduct, together with an account of the number and circumstances of his family, signed by the presiding elder of the district, or the preacher in charge of the circuit or station within whose bounds he may reside; without which, the conference shall not be required to allow his claim.
* A supernumerary preacher is one so worn out in the itinerant service as to be rendered incapable of preaching constantly; but at the same time is willing to do any work in the ministry, which the conference may direct, and his strength enable him to perform.