U. M. Polity for Leadership


Online Mechanics of the Course

For Discussion Topics

For Case Studies


Final Paper

Your final assignment is to write a paper between eight to ten pages in length on how a particular aspect of United Methodist polity has or will affect your engagement in or commitment to ministry.   The affects may be positive, negative or both.    You have the option of selecting the topic that best meets your need.

Please consider and include the following information:

Please be sure to consider the impact and process of how your chosen area of polity touches the General, Jurisdictional, Annual, and District Conference structure of the UMC.  Your work should reflect your ability to integrate your understanding of the various sections of The Book of Discipline, the real life needs of the local church, your theological insights, the history and future of the UMC, along with any biblical insights that are fitting.


For this assignment, footnotes are not necessary but you should be sure to reference all appropriate paragraphs from the BOD within the body of your work.  The document should be double spaced Times Roman 12 point font with your name at the top of each numbered page. Please upload your material  as a Word document directly to the classroom site for review and grading.

This final course document will reflect 40% of the course grade.

The due date for this final course assignment will be Friday March 17,2017.


Spring Quarter 2019

Instructor:  Rev. Cathie Kelsey, ThD   contact: ckelsey@iliff.edu or text 303-968-9812

all the material that was on this page in week one is now here:

Course Objective:

In successfully completing this course, the student will understand how specific practical systems and structures evolved within the United Methodist Church over a period of time. The student will also acquire a working and practical knowledge of the polity of the United Methodist Church.  We will draw a focus on practical and effective ministry systems that interact with each other to form an interactive and vital structure for ministry. 

Course Schedule:

This course is a hybrid edition of the UM Polity for Leadership experience.  Much of our work together will be done online through this Canvas classroom site.  However, during Gathering Days following Easter, we will meet together in a classroom on the Iliff School of Theology campus in Denver.  Iliff students are scheduled to meet together on Tuesday, April 23, 2019, from 1:00 to 5:00 PM and on Wednesday, April 24, 2019, from 8:00 AM to Noon.   Austin and CTS students will not be expected to join us in Denver, since you don't need the residential credit. I will have a separate set of work for you for week 5 of the term.

Please take note of the schedule and make arrangements to join your classmates for Gathering Days and a face-to-face experience on the Iliff campus.  I will be looking forward to 'meeting' you all online, but it will be especially good to spend some time together in a physical classroom setting.

Course Description:

The course will provide the background necessary for understanding and appreciating the evolution of United Methodist polity and examines the current operation of that polity. This course offers practical ministry oriented information with a focus on effective conversations that will enhance successful local church ministry.  We will explore the present polity of the United Methodist Church and discover the various ways to organize the local church for mission.  We will also seek clarity regarding the best way to serve within our unique appointment process.

Online presentations, forum discussions, on-campus gatherings, and case studies will be used for understanding the polity structure and framework of the United Methodist Church.  This course is designed to partially meet the Book of Discipline requirements for candidates seeking ordination as Deacons or Elders within the United Methodist Church.

Books for the Course:

The 2016 Book of Discipline is also available online as a free resource through Cokesbury @ UM BOD

Course Information and Instructions:

Our time together will focus directly on the 2016 Book of Discipline (BOD) of the United Methodist Church.  As you will notice, the BOD is structured around specific sections.  We will take on the material in the BOD one section / one week at a time with corresponding content from Thomas Frank's book on Polity, Practice and the Mission of The United Methodist Church.  The content of Frank's book (2006 edition) has not been updated to include the actions from the most recent General Conference sessions.  However, his insights into the history and the general content of the BOD is always valuable.

There will be a tight reading schedule for each week that will be related to the various sections of the BOD.  Some sections are longer than others.  Some will also call for a closer reading than others!  For example, since the local church will be a primary place of ministry for most of you...we will read that section very closely to understand the various dynamics of local church structure and function. I will provide you insights into the sections that call for a broad scope understanding and those that will invite us to dig a bit deeper and with more detail.

Please note that each of the weekly reading assignments is listed with a Friday due date.  However, it is always very helpful if you post early in the week so you have time for interaction. That is really my way of saying that your reading and posting for the week should be complete at least by Thursday!  Please do not wait until Friday of each week to complete your reading.  Otherwise, it will be really hard to post a response that relates to the topic at hand.


You will notice that each weekly assignment/interaction is connected to 5-grade points for each week.  Effective, engaged, and thoughtful interaction is the standard weekly expectation. To receive the full 5 points available you must post and interact with your classmates in a timely, informed, and detailed way.  Your posting must be received before the close of the week on Friday to receive full credit.   Late posting will receive a maximum of half credit for the week.

You will also be asked to report the completion of your reading as we conclude the quarter.  Full completion of your reading assignments will receive 10-grade points.  For example: 100% completion = 10 points   ~  80% completion = 8 points  ~  55% completion = 5.5 points

Your final paper will be a centerpiece of our work together.  Your final assignment will pull together your reading, classroom interaction, practical experience, and our overall discussion into a concise and personal well-researched document.  The final paper for the course carries 40 points toward your total grade.

 Thus: The following Grade process will apply to your work this quarter:

Weekly Interaction =  50 points total available ( 5 for each of 10 weeks)

Completion of Reading = 10 points total

Final writing assignment = 40 points total

Grading scale    (100 - 96 A)   (95-91 A-)   (90-86 B+)   (85-81 B)   (80-76 B-)   (75-71 C+)   (70-66 C)


Special Note:

As you know, the special called General Conference just met in St Louis February 23-26, 2019.  We will be tracking the legislation and the impact on the Book of Discipline as we move through our course together. 

The next major step in the process will take place with a meeting of the UM Judicial Council on April 23-26 in Evanston, Illinois.  During that session, the Judicial Council will be ruling on the constitutionality of the actions that were taken at the Special Called General Conference.

The actions of the special called General Conference and any modifying decisions that are made by the Judicial Council, will not become an active part of the Book of Discipline until January 2020.    In addition, the next regular session of the General Conference will take place just four months later on May 5-15, 2020 in Minneapolis.

For the purpose of this course, our focus will be on the current edition of the United Methodist Book of Discipline which reflects the current polity of the church and the decisions of the 2016 session of the General Conference.   Be sure that the Book of Discipline edition you are using for the course is the 2016 edition.

Stay tuned!

Policies And Services

I moved it so that it would be out of our way, now that you've seen it.  Cathie 4-11-2019

Mar 26, 2019TueGet Started - meet your colleaguesdue by 05:59AM
Mar 30, 2019SatWeek One ~ March 25-29, 2019 ~ Welcome to United Methodist Polity for Leadershipdue by 05:59AM
Apr 06, 2019SatWeek Two ~ April 1-5, 2019 ~ Judicial Administrationdue by 05:59AM
Apr 13, 2019SatWeek Three ~ April 8-12, 2019 ~ The Local Church due by 05:59AM
Apr 20, 2019SatWeek Four ~ April 15-19, 2019 ~ Ministry of the Ordaineddue by 05:59AM
Apr 27, 2019SatWeek Five ~ April 22-26, 2019 ~ The Superintendencydue by 05:59AM
May 04, 2019SatWeek Six ~ April 29 - May 3, 2019 ~ The Conferences due by 05:59AM
May 11, 2019SatWeek Seven ~ May 6-10, 2019 ~ Administrative Orderdue by 05:59AM
May 11, 2019SatTopic for your final paper - submit proposaldue by 05:59AM
May 18, 2019SatWeek Eight ~ May 13-17, 2019 ~ Church Propertydue by 05:59AM
May 25, 2019SatWeek Nine ~ May 20-24, 2019 ~ The Social Principles due by 05:59AM
May 28, 2019TueUp to 10 Points ~ May 27, 2019 ~ Reading Reportdue by 05:59AM
Jun 01, 2019SatFinal Writing Assignment ~ Due Friday May 31, 2019 - grads due May 29th at 5:00pmdue by 05:59AM