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Published August 1996
In the Methodist lexicon, 'conference' refers to a body of preachers (and later, of laity as well) that exercises legislative, judicial, and executive functions for the church or some portion thereof. 'Conference,' says Richey, defined Methodism in more than political ways: on conference hinged religious time, religious space, religious belonging, religious structure, even religiosity itself. Methodist histories uniformly recognize, typically even feature, conference's centrality, but describe that in primarily constitutional and political terms. The purpose of this volume is to present conference as a distinctively American Methodist manner of being the church, a multifaceted mode of spirituality, unity, mission, governance, and fraternity that American Methodists have lived and operated better than they have interpreted.