A Smidgen of History and Interest

Original Article:  Researching Your United Methodist Ancestors

What are the Predecessor Denominations of The United Methodist Church?

Today’s United Methodist Church is the descendent of several predecessors.  These denominations are: Methodist Episcopal Church (1784-1939), Methodist Episcopal Church, South (1845-1939), Methodist Protestant Church ( 1828-1939), Methodist Church (1939-1968), United Brethren in Christ (1800-1946), Evangelical Association (1803-1922), United Evangelical Church (1894-1922), Evangelical Church (1922-1946), Evangelical United Brethren (1946-1968), United Methodist Church (1968- present).

“United Method-ese” – What Some of our Terms Mean

  • Annual Conference – an organizational unit  within United Methodism (and all predecessor denominations), consisting of  churches in a given geographical area.   Clergy and lay delegates attend a business session each year, usually in the early summer, at which time clergy receive their preaching appointments for the coming year.   Financial business, reports of the numbers of new members, and other matters are also addressed at this yearly meeting.
  • Annual Conference Journal – Published every year, the journal contains detailed information about, clergy, churches, and ministries of an annual conference.
    Appointment – The preacher’s assignment by the bishop of the annual conference where the preacher holds his or her membership.
    Charge – The church or churches to which a pastor is appointed.
    Circuit – A pastoral charge of two or more churches.
    Local Preacher/Pastor – In the 19th century, a lay person who was authorized to perform ministerial tasks (such as preaching, marrying and burying, but not conducting the Lord’s Supper) at a local church while the fully ordained minister was away traveling the circuit.
    If you have further questions about our research service feel free to contact our genealogy research staff.

Written by Dr. John E. Sims  and adapted with permission, GCAH 2/1994


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