¶ 604. Powers and Duties-1. The annual conference, for its own government, may adopt rules and regulations not in conflict with the Discipline of The United Methodist Church; provided that in exercise of its powers, each annual conference shall act in all respects in harmony with the policy of The United Methodist Church with respect to elimination of discrimination.37 (See ¶4, Article IV.)
2. An annual conference cannot financially obligate any organizational unit of The United Methodist Church except the annual conference itself.38
3. The annual conference may admit into clergy membership only those who have met all the disciplinary requirements for membership and only in the manner prescribed in the Discipline.39
4. The annual conference shall have power to make inquiry into the moral and official conduct of its clergy members. Subject only to the provisions of ¶¶ 2701-2719, the annual conference shall have power to hear complaints against its clergy members and may try, reprove, suspend, deprive of clergy office and credentials, expel, or acquit any against whom charges may have been preferred. The annual conference shall have power to locate a clergy member for failure to perform effectively and competently the duties of itinerant ministry.40
5. The status of a clergy member and of a probationer and the manner and conditions of a transfer of a clergy member from one annual conference to another are governed by the section on the ordained ministry (Chapter Two).
6. Transfers of traveling preachers are conditioned on the passing of their character by the conference to which they are amenable. The official announcement that a preacher is transferred changes the preacher’s membership so that all rights and responsibilities in the conference to which that preacher goes begin from the date of transfer. Such member of an annual conference shall not vote twice on the same constitutional question, nor be counted twice in the same year in the basis for election of delegates, nor vote twice in the same year for delegates to the general, jurisdictional, or central conferences.
7. Whenever clergy members, whether on probation or in full connection, are transferred to another annual conference, either in connection with a transfer of the pastoral charge to which they are appointed or by reason of the dissolution or merger of the annual conference, they shall have the same rights and obligations as the other members of the conference to which they are transferred.
8. The annual conference shall have power to make inquiry into the financial status of the local churches, and where there is a deficit in finances, it may require the pastor and the lay member to appear before the appropriate committee and make explanation. Based upon its findings, it shall provide counsel to help the church overcome such a deficit position.
9. The annual conference shall have the power to make inquiry into the membership status of the local churches, and where no members have been received on confession of faith during the year, it may require the pastor and the lay member to appear before the appropriate agency and make explanation.
10. The annual conference shall give recognition to any new churches that have been organized during the year and shall, through the presiding bishop and the secretary, send to each new church a certificate of organization, which the district superintendent shall, on behalf of the conference, present to the new church in an appropriate ceremony.
11. The annual conference shall secure, during the course of its annual session, the answers to the questions for conducting annual conference sessions, and the secretary to the annual conference shall include the answers to these questions in the conference journal and in the report to the council on finance and administration.
12. If any annual conference initiates, joins, monitors, or terminates a boycott, the guidelines in The Book of Resolutions, 2004, should be followed. The General Conference is the only body that can initiate, empower, or join a boycott in the name of The United Methodist Church.
13. The annual conference may choose to adopt a conference-wide plan for compensation of pastors. Such a plan shall provide the method for setting and funding the salaries, and/or other compensation elements as specified in the plan, of the pastors appointed to the charges of the annual conference.
14. Closed Sessions-In the spirit of openness and accountability, all meetings of official boards, agencies, commissions, and committees of the annual conference, including sub-unit meetings and teleconferences, shall be open. Portions of a meeting may be closed for consideration of specific subjects if such a closed session is authorized by an affirmative public vote of at least three-fourths of the voting members present. The vote shall be taken in public session and recorded in the minutes. Documents distributed in open meetings shall be considered public.
Great restraint shall be used in closing meetings; closed sessions should be used as seldom as possible. Subjects that may be considered in closed session are limited to real-estate matters; negotiations, when general knowledge could be harmful to the negotiation process; personnel matters; issues related to the accreditation or approval of institutions; discussions relating to litigation or collective bargaining; deployment of security personnel or devices; and negotiations involving confidential third-party information.
A report on the results of a closed session shall be made immediately upon its conclusion or as soon thereafter as is practicable.41
37. See Judicial Council Decisions 43, 74, 109, 141, 318, 323, 367, 373, 418, 432, 435, 476, 536, 584, 590, 592, 688, 694, 699, 876.
38. See Judicial Council Decision 707.
39. See Judicial Council Decision 440.
40. See Judicial Council Decisions 534, 782.
41. See Judicial Council Decisions 751, 869.