"The primary responsibilities of the charge conference in the annual meeting shall be to review and evaluate the total mission and ministry of the church, receive reports, and adopt objectives and goals recommended by the church council that are in keeping with the objectives of The United Methodist Church," The Book of Discipline, paragraph 247.3.
A number of churches are considering moving to a simpler governance structure as allowed for by The 2016 The Book of Discipline, to learn more about these various structure and view a one-page resource guide with a number of linked references, click here.
You can access the video tutorials to assist you in this year’s submission process on YouTube by clicking here.
2018 Charge Conference Forms and Process
All pastors whose email address was properly listed in the alternate email address field of their church information received the following email instructions around August 1-2, 2018. This email included a hyperlink to connect directly to your church's "Church Dashboard" in the conference's Brick River database system. If you inadvertently deleted this email or did not receive a copy, contact your district office who will coordinate to have another email sent to you.
1. The office of connectional ministries and communications is excited to share with you information about this year's charge conference season. Please carefully read this entire message and the corresponding directions on the linked web pages that you will use in this year's process. While we understand that many of you will be assisted in this process by various members of your church or church staff, the senior pastor should be the final person to review the information and ensure the correct information is submitted for your church.
2. If you are serving a multi-point charge, you will receive a separate email for each church with a UNIQUE link to access that church's online dashboard (details in paragraph 4 below). This process is very similar to what you experienced when completing your church and clergy profiles sent earlier this summer.
If your church no longer has access to this email, contact your district office who can assist you with your church's login information which you can use to access your Church Dashboard and these forms.
3. You will notice a number of improvements for 2018 that are being implemented because of your feedback from last year. Specifically, churches will no longer have to enter the same contact information for the same person over and over again if a person serves in multiple roles in your church. In fact, if someone is continuing in a given role, you can simply change the end date of an assignment directly on your newly accessible Church Dashboard on our conference website.
4. The Church Dashboard is one of this year's major enhancements. While this very helpful online tool is just now being used conference-wide in the Mississippi Conference, over 15 other annual conferences have been using it for a number of years in local churches to streamline their work regarding charge conference requirements. The Church Dashboard is where you will enter your church leadership names and contact information for the required positions (listed on the Church Leaders page of the dashboard). You can also update your church's information that is automatically published on the Our Churches section of the conference website. This year you can use whatever format you desire to report and submit all of the other names for the various committees at your church. You will NOT have to submit contact information for these positions that are not being entered into the online Church Dashboardon the Church Leaders page.
5. Another significant change this year is the implementation of the online Consolidated Charge Conference Form. To view a PDF version of this entire form click here. To view a single non-editable PDF of all required and optional forms click here. Please note that links to editable versions of each form are available on the online Consolidated Charge Conference Form if you want to type your responses prior to saving, scanning or uploading them.
6. Complete the Consolidated Charge Conference Form online by answering a series of questions and attaching the various forms that are traditionally completed during charge conference. Then access your church's online form by clicking on the blue hyperlink to your church dashboard towards the bottom of this email. This link will launch your Church Dashboard where you can click on a Charge Conference Forms link on the left-hand navigation bar. From this page, you can launch your Consolidated Charge Conference Form.
7. Once you begin this form, you will notice some new questions in 2018 related to childcare, risk management, clergy moving expenses and parsonages. The background and context for these questions are outlined on the form and most are related to recent changes in federal tax law and/or conference policy or insurance considerations. Your church council and/or trustees will play an important role in completing these new sections.
8. To help in this process, we will be rolling out a few video tutorials over the next few weeks. The videos will primarily address how to navigate the online Consolidated Charge Conference Form and the Church Dashboard. Finally, options will be shared for scanning and uploading your documents if you are not familiar with that type of data submission. However, you and your team can begin your data collection and entry now. Simply click the Save button at the bottom of the Consolidated Charge Conference Form before exiting your browser after any changes are made. If you have intermittent internet connectivity, you should save often.
9. We realize that many of you have experienced a number of challenges over the past few years due to different systems and processes being used to collect this information. While this year's process will not be perfect, it represents a significant move forward and an intentional transition towards a process that is easier and more efficient for everyone. Since this work will be directly connected to the conference's database of record, Brick River, we anticipate less change and more stability moving forward. Thank you again for your patience and continued help in so many areas. As always, your first call for questions should be to your district office. While they will also be learning this new system alongside of you, they will be best positioned to help you.
The instructions below are listed on various pages found on the "Church Dashboard." They are included here for your easy access and review.
Welcome to the church dashboard. Local churches can use this portal to access and update local church information regarding a number of items to include:
a church photograph
worship service time(s)
church phone number and email address
driving directions to your church
Charge Conference Forms Page (on Church Dashboard)
Instructions: This page will list any assigned forms that are completed or in progress. From this page, you will be able to access any forms currently in process. You will be able to view and print completed forms once the completion date locks the form.
Technical Notes regarding editable PDF forms: In order to type and save your church's information on the editable PDF forms, your best option is to use Adobe Acrobat Reader or Adobe Acrobat Reader DC. Please note, that you can print out the forms and hand-write your information (neatly) and scan that copy onto your computer if you prefer. You can download this free program at https://get.adobe.com/reader/. Be sure to download the correct version for your computer's operating system (Windows 10, Windows 8, MAC OS 10.xx, etc.). On this linked page, you should see your computer's operating system on the left side of this page. You may want to uncheck the other extensions and optional offers that are selected for you by default on this page—they are NOT required for Acrobat Reader to work correctly or complete your charge conference forms. To type the information on these forms and upload them, follow these directions:
Open each link for each PDF form.
Save each file to your computer, prior to beginning to fill it out.
*If you enter data into the PDF form while it is open on your internet browser and not the saved one from your computer, you will lose the data.
Complete each form.
Save the completed form.
Scan the form if a 'wet' signature is required and save the file to your computer. Follow the directions on the Consolidation Charge Conference Form as to what forms can be combined together in scanning for uploading and which ones need to be submitted separately.
Upload the form(s) as required in the Consolidation Charge Conference Form.
Church Leaders Page (on Church Dashboard)
Instructions: The leader assignments that you make here should still be included in your overall lay nominations report that you approve at the charge conference.
Churches are only required to enter the positions listed in the right column. Churches are welcome to enter all of their leaders here if you would like to keep up with all leaders in one location. For any non-required positions, you do not have to include all contact information. You can simply enter their name, position and effective dates. A best practice would be to enter your leaders in three-year "classes" so that you don't have to update them every year.
For committee chairs, you will designate the "chair" using the "role" drop down box when making that assignment to a person. If your church is using a simple church governance structure, simply annotate the church council's representative in the required areas (finance, pastor parish, council and nominations) as the "chair" so that they will receive the appropriate district and conference level communications for your church. Please note that the board of trustees chair is elected by that board and not the charge conference.
If any individual will be continuing in the same role or assignment for the new year or as part of a new "class" of officers, simply change the end date. Do NOT make a duplicate entry or assignment for the same person in the same position/role. The portal will guide you step-by-step in adding a new assignment once you have properly edited any current assignments. Important tips:
Church Contacts Page (on Church Dashboard)
Instructions: Individuals on this page have been associated with your church in the past. The intent of this page is NOT to reflect every member of your church. Most likely these individuals were entered because they previously served in a leadership position at your church. You can update this list as you deem appropriate by either updating the contact information or by removing the individual from your church. Please note, this 'removal' process does not replace the standard procedure for removing a member from the church membership rolls. You are also not 'deleting' this person per se. This 'removal' is simply removing the automated association in the database between this person and your church.
Church Information Page (on Church Dashboard)
Instructions: All of the information on this page automatically populates the "our churches" section on conference website. You can update most information using the green "Update" button below. To change any restricted fields like mailing and physical address, contact your district office.