Discipline ¶644

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  ¶ 644. There shall be in each annual conference a conference commission on the small membership church, or the responsibilities of the small membership church commission may be assigned to an existing or newly created multifunctional agency of the council or other structure that cares for the functions of support, nurture, and growth of small membership churches and their relationships to the conference, districts, and other local churches. Where these responsibilities are assigned to new or existing agencies within the conference, the individual(s) responsible for the functioning of the commission shall be designated by the annual conference and included in the listing of conference officers.
1. The responsibility of this commission shall be in harmony with the responsibility of the general commission, with the following objectives established as guidelines for adaptation to the needs of the respective annual conference:
    a) To be informed about the needs and opportunities of the small membership church in rural, suburban, and urban settings in the total life of the conference. Specific data shall be gathered that relate to all structural levels of the conference, including the local church. This data shall include, but not be limited to, demographics, membership, information on the formation and effectiveness of cooperative ministries, information about pastoral tenure, compensation, and other factors that affect the vitality of the small membership churches. Such information will be regularly updated and disseminated to bishops, district superintendents, and to relating conference boards and agencies, the General Board of Global Ministries, and the General Board of Discipleship.
b) To ensure representation from small membership churches in the decision-making structures of the annual conference.
c) To develop ways to inform and sensitize the leadership within the annual conference at all levels on issues that affect small membership churches, which shall be projected into and through all districts within the annual conference by the commission.
d) To focus on major issues related to small membership churches and to enlist the support of the bishop, cabinet, and conference staff in policies, plans, and practices impacting those issues.
e) To advise the general commission on the progress and effectiveness of efforts to achieve full participation of laity and clergy from small membership churches in the life of the Church.
f) To participate in connectional programs and plans initiated or recommended by the general commission as needed.
  2. The basic membership of the conference commission shall
be nominated and elected by established procedures of the annual conferences. All must be members of The United Methodist Church. Special consultants without vote may be used as resource persons. Among the basic members of the commission shall be representatives of small membership churches from each district.
3. The commission shall propose a budget and submit it for inclusion in the budget of the annual conference according to procedures for funding of all boards, commissions, and agencies of the annual conference.