Discipline ¶701

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Chapter Five
ADMINISTRATIVE ORDER

Section I. General Provisions
  ¶ 701. Agencies and General Agencies-1. Connectionalism is an important part of our identity as United Methodists. It provides us with wonderful opportunities to carry out our mission in unity and strength. We experience this connection in many ways, including our systems of episcopacy, itineracy, property, and mutual cooperation and support. Our connectional system performs at least three essential tasks: embracing God’s mission for the church as making disciples for Jesus Christ; organizing our whole Church to enable local congregations, the primary arena for mission, faithfully and fruitfully to make disciples for Jesus Christ; and ensuring that all components in the connection carry out their appropriate responsibilities in ways that enable the whole United Methodist Church to be faithful in its mission. General agencies, in particular, are important to our common vision, mission, and ministry. They provide essential services and ministries beyond the scope of individual local congregations and annual conferences through services and ministries that are highly focused, flexible, and capable of rapid response.
The term agency, wherever it appears in the Book of Discipline, is a term used to describe the various councils, boards, commissions, committees, divisions, or other units constituted within the various levels of Church organization (general, jurisdictional, central, annual, district, and charge conferences) under authority granted by the Book of Discipline; the term does not and is not meant to imply a master-servant or principal-agent relationship between these bodies and the conference or other body that creates them, except where the authority is specifically granted.
2. The general agencies of The United Methodist Church are the regularly established councils, boards, commissions, committees, or other units with ongoing responsibilities that have been constituted by the General Conference. Not included are such commissions and committees as are created by the General Conference to fulfill a special function within the ensuing quadrennium, ecumenical groups on which The United Methodist Church is represented, or committees related to the quadrennial sessions of the General Conference.1  The term general agency or agency, wherever it appears in the Book of Discipline in reference to a general agency, does not and is not meant to imply a master-servant or principal-agent relationship between such a body and the General Conference or any other unit of the denomination, or the denomination as a whole.
1. See Judicial Council Decision 139.