As with all churches the Methodist has its own specific structure, form of government, and style of worship.
The Methodist Church throughout Ireland is referred to as “The Connexion” to remind all members and individual congregations of their interconnectedness and interdependence!
Members from all the churches are invited to send members and Ministers to an annual Conference, which is our governing body. There are the Ministerial sessions (All ministers) and the representative sessions (Half are ministers, half are lay people).
Conference elects a President of the Methodist Church in Ireland and the Lay Leader of the Conference, appoints various connexion officers and committees, reviews reports from those committees and passes legislation as appropriate.
The President of the Church is not a position for life. With its roots in the lower classes of society, Methodism cast off the hierarchical structure of some other churches. So, the president is a term of office for one year, after which the he or she rejoins the regular ministry.
Local Methodist congregations are known as “Societies” reflecting the origin of Methodism as a society for renewal within the Anglican Church in 1700s. Societies are grouped into “Circuits” and “Districts” under a District Superintendent.
Lay people have always played an important role in the life of the Methodist Church. In the past lay people kept the church going while itinerant preachers came around when they could. Now an ordained minister is designated to a society for a longer period before moving on to another place. Generally, they stay five to eight years. Each brings his or her own gifts to the local society and helps us feel connected with the other societies from where they came and to which they go. We miss them when they go, though new people bring fresh eyes to a situation!
If you are interested in more detail the Faith and Order Committee of the Methodist Church in Ireland has produced a booklet called Methodist Belief. You can find this on the website https://www.irishmethodist.org/welcome