Quick Facts

U.S. Data | Data from Outside the United States | MissionHealth and Welfare | EducationGiving | Polity | Bishops | History | Structure | Ecumenical Relationships

Statistics for the year ending 2004
Provided by - General Council on Finance and Administration, General Board of Global Ministries and General Board of Higher Education and Ministry

U.S. Data

8,075,010   Lay members 
     45,175  Clergy members
1,221,745   Preparatory members
    34,892   Local churches
         504  Districts
           63  Conferences
           50  Bishops/Episcopal areas
             5  Jurisdictions

Data from Outside the United States

1,883,772  Lay members
      9,186  Clergy members
   644,045  Preparatory members
      6,934  Organized churches
          59  Conferences
          19  Bishops/Episcopal areas


The United Methodist Church is in mission in more than 125 countries.
      903  mission personnel supported by the General Board of Global Ministries
135,000  United Methodist Volunteers in Mission
      103  United Methodist-related community centers and other national mission institutions in 35 of the United States, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands

Health and Welfare

 68  Children, youth and family services
104 Community service ministries
 53  Hospitals and health care systems
   5  Ministries for persons with disabilities
155  Older adult ministries


  7 two-year colleges
82 four-year colleges
10 universities
13 theological schools
  1 professional school
10 precollegiate schools
68 Crusade Scholars


United Methodists give nearly $4.9 billion annually for clergy support and benevelonces, local church building and debt retirement and operating expenses.

United Methodists give nearly $313 million yearly for district, annual conference and jurisdictional benevolences; and United Methodist Women funds.

In 2004, United Methodists contributed more than $166 million for general benevolences, connectional clergy support and administration, including $88 million for World Service, the basic program and benevolence fund.

Local congregations gave a total of $5.54 billion for all purposes in 2004.


No person or organization except the General Conference, which convenes every four years, has authority to speak officially for the denomination. General Conference, the denomination’s top policy-making body, has a maximum of 1,000 delegates – half clergy, half lay, from around the world. The conference revises church law and the “Social Principles” (related to a wide range of social and economic concerns) and adopts resolutions on various current moral, social, public policy and economic issues. It also approves plans and budgets for churchwide programs for the next four years.


The United Methodist Church has 50 active bishops in the United States and 19 active bishops in Angola, Côte d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Germany, Liberia, Mozambique, Nigeria, Norway, the Philippines, Russia, Sierra Leone, Switzerland, Uganda and Zimbabwe. Bishops are elected every four years and serve until retirement.  Each bishop supervises a specific geographical area of the church and annually appoints all ordained ministers in that area. The Council of Bishops supervises and promotes the temporal and spiritual interests of the entire church.

Current U.S. bishops include:  9 African-American male bishops, 3 African-American female bishops, 1 Hispanic-American male bishop, 1 Hispanic-American female bishop, 4 Asian-American male bishops, 21 Caucasian male bishops, 11 Caucasian female bishops.  35 male bishops.  15 female bishops. 


The United Methodist Church was formed in 1968 with the union of the former Evangelical United Brethren Church and The Methodist Church.

The Evangelical United Brethren Church, established in 1946, resulted from the union of two U.S.-born denominations: the Evangelical Church and the Church of the United Brethren in Christ. These two churches originated among German-speaking people during the great spiritual awakening in the late 18th century.

The Methodist movement began in England in the early 1700s, under Anglican minister John Wesley and his followers. Wesley and his brother Charles brought the movement to the colony of Georgia, arriving in March 1736 as Church of England missionaries. The U.S. Methodist Episcopal Church was organized in 1784. The denomination grew rapidly and was known for its “circuit rider” ministers on the advancing frontiers. A split in 1828 formed the Methodist Protestant Church, and in 1844, over the issue of slavery, the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. The North and South factions reunited in 1939 (as The Methodist Church), but retained racial segregation. That separation ended in 1968 with the merger of the Methodist and Evangelical United Brethren Churches.


The United Methodist Church’s legislative branch is its General Conference; Judicial Council is its supreme court. The United Methodist Church has no single general officer or executive, although the Council of Bishops elects a president each year. General agencies are primarily accountable to the General Conference rather than to the Council of Bishops. Boards of directors, who are lay and clergy elected jointly by General Conference and regional organizations, govern their staffs.

Each church in the United States is part of a district, an administrative and program grouping of 40-80 churches with a full-time superintendent. Districts are grouped into annual conferences, regional bodies that meet yearly for legislative purposes. Annual conferences approve programming and budget, elect delegates to General and Jurisdictional conferences, and examine and recommend candidates for ministry. Five geographic jurisdictions (divisions) in the United States include 8-13 annual conferences each. Jurisdictional conferences meet simultaneously every four years to elect and assign bishops and some members of general church agencies, and, in some cases, to develop jurisdictional programs. Each local church is governed by a charge conference with a chuch council as the year-round supervisor. The church council plans and implements the programs and ministry of the local church as well as oversees the administration of the church.

Ecumenical Relationships 

The United Methodist Church is a member of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America and of the World Council of Churches. It also participates in Churches Uniting in Christ (formerly the Consultation on Church Union), where nine U.S. denominations are discussing steps to greater union. Combined membership of CUIC churches is about 20 million in 82,000 congregations.

The United Methodist Church and three historically black Methodist denominations (the African Methodist Episcopal, African Methodist Zion and Christian Methodist Episcopal churches) have been exploring union since 1985. All four churches share a common heritage in the Methodist movement, and have a combined membership of 12 million.

The 36-member Commission on Pan-Methodist Cooperation and Union continues negotiations related to the meaning of “union” in the context of the four churches. 

This information is courtesy of InfoServ, the information service of The United Methodist Church.

United Methodist Office
of Public Information
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Nashville, TN 37203

Diane Denton,
Director of Public Relations
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