PITTS THEOLOGY LIBRARY
ARCHIVES AND MANUSCRIPTS DEPT.
UNITED METHODIST CHURCH (U.S.) NORTH GEORGIA CONFERENCE.
Agency history record.
RECORD GROUP 025
The Georgia Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church (MEC) was organized
at the church's General Conference of 1830. The members met for the
first time in Macon, Georgia, in 1831. Within a few years the church
began to struggle with the issue of slavery. Unable to reach an agreement,
the church divided in 1844 and the slave holding states formed the Methodist
Episcopal Church, South (MECS).
In 1866 the Georgia Conference of the MECS was divided into the North and
South Georgia Conferences. After much debate the conference voted for
a dividing line that ran generally east and west and slightly north of Macon.
The division put nearly two thirds of the state in the South Georgia Conference
and approximately two thirds of the members in the North Georgia Conference.
At the time of its creation, the North Georgia Conference consisted of a
total of roughly 540 churches with a combined lay membership of 38,000 and
390 clergy. It included the districts of Augusta, Athens, Atlanta, Elberton,
Dahlonega, Griffin, La Grange, Milledgeville, and Rome.
The North Georgia Conference grew rapidly. In 1939 the MECS united
with the MEC and the Methodist Protestant Church to form the Methodist Church.
At this time the Conference consisted of ten districts, 289 charges, 377
clergy, 156,000 members, and churches and parsonages valued at $8,232,995.
The Methodist Church merged with the Evangelical United Brethren Church in
1968 to become the United Methodist Church. In 1996 the North Georgia
Conference of the United Methodist Church consisted of twelve districts with
a total lay membership of 286,515 and 877 clergy.
The experience of African Americans within the Methodist Church was one of
segregation. They were organized into conferences separate from those
of white members. In 1864 the General Conference of the MEC authorized
the creation of Mission Conferences to serve people of color. Five
mission conferences were formed between 1866 and 1868, including the Georgia
Mission Conference in 1867. By 1868 these conferences had been granted
the same status as the regional annual conferences. The Savannah Conference
was formed in 1876, with the Atlanta Conference added in 1896. By 1895
these conferences had become almost exclusively African American in membership,
numbering nineteen by 1925. At the time of unification in 1939, all the segregated
conferences within the Methodist Church were organized into the Central Jurisdictional
Conference, a racial, rather than geographical conference. This conference
existed simultaneously with the five regional jurisdictional conferences.
The Savannah and Atlanta Conferences united in 1952 to create the Georgia
Conference. In 1964 the General Conference of the Methodist Church
passed a plan to integrate the Central Jurisdictional Conference into the
five regional jurisdictions. These merged from 1964 to 1973, with the
Georgia Conference uniting with the North Georgia Conference in 1971 and
the South Georgia Conference in 1972.
The North Georgia Conference supports a wide variety of services and institutions.
The Wesleyan Christian Advocate is a weekly newspaper supported by the North
and South Georgia Conferences. The United Methodist Children's Home
(formerly known as the Orphan's Home), located in Decatur, was established
in 1871. The conference supports several institutions of higher learning:
Emory University, originally established at Oxford in 1836; La Grange College,
which began as a female academy in 1831; Reinhardt College, formerly a junior
college founded in 1883; and Young Harris College, a junior college opened
in 1882. The church supports Wesley Foundations at nine other colleges
and universities in the north Georgia area. In addition to these institutions
the North Georgia Conference has developed Camp Glisson, a summer camp and
year round retreat facility in Dahlonega, and Simpsonwood Conference Center
in Norcross. United Methodist retirement centers include Wesley Woods
in Atlanta and Wesley Village in Blairsville.
The North Georgia Conference is the basic governing body of the United Methodist
Church (U.S.) for the northern portion of the state of Georgia. It
is composed of equal numbers of clergy and lay members elected from the individual
churches in the conference. The elected delegates meet in annual sessions
to hear reports from all committees, vote on constitutional amendments, adopt
rules and regulations for the Conference, and elect delegates to the General
and Southeastern Jurisdictional Conferences. Clergy members of the Conference
vote on all matters concerning ordination, character, and conference relations
of ministers. The resident bishop presides over the conference sessions,
but is not a member of the body and cannot speak on the issues that are presented
to the delegates. While the bishop has no part in deciding which persons
will be admitted as clergy members of the Conference, he or she is responsible
for appointing pastors to serve in each charge within the Conference.
The North Georgia Conference is divided into twelve districts, the boundaries
of which are determined on the basis of geography and population density.
Each of the districts is under the supervision of a district superintendent
whose primary responsibilities include making certain that the churches within
his or her district follow the guidelines of the Discipline, assisting the
bishop in the process of appointing pastors to charges, and acting as minister
to the pastors residing within the district. The North Georgia Conference
no longer requires that yearly conferences be held on the district level.
There are, however, a variety of training sessions and other district level
meetings and activities throughout the year.
Each district is made up of charges, the basic unit of the Conference.
Each charge may include one or more local churches, all served by the same
pastor. Charges composed of more than one church are sometimes referred
to as circuits. Prior to 1968 each charge was required to meet on a
quarterly basis and submit reports to the district superintendent, who presided
over these Quarterly Conferences. In the 1968 the Charge Conference
replaced the Quarterly Conference as the governing body of the local church
or charge. It is composed of all officials of the church, the pastor,
assistant pastors if any, and other specified officers. The Charge
Conference must meet at least once each year to set the budget for the coming
year, elect church officers and delegates to the yearly sessions of the North
Georgia Conference, and take care of other business matters pertaining specifically
to the charge.
--Written by Nancy Watkins, 1997.
--Updated by Anne Graham, 2003.
of the North Georgia Conference are described separately. Descriptions
of all the series generated by the conference are linked to this agency history.
Last Modified: 06/12/2003