Methodism kept pace with pioneers as they moved west, and geographical conferences were organized as the areas were settled.
Methodism came into what is now Arkansas at least two decades before statehood, just as it had been brought to North America at least two decades before the American Revolution.
Led by John Wesley, an Anglican priest; his brother Charles; and a few others, Methodism had begun as a movement within the Church of England in the 1720s.
Wesley never considered himself anything but an Anglican priest, but after the Americans had won their independence, his followers here demanded a new and separate church.
Structure of the Church Wesley’s followers studied and worshiped as small independent classes or societies until the Methodist Episcopal (ME) Church in America was officially organized in Baltimore in 1784.
Each level of church organization meets annually to review its work; the Arkansas Conference now meets each June.
In 1940, the church added jurisdictional conferences, which are regional groups of conferences that meet once every four years and are responsible for electing and assigning bishops.
Early History of Methodism in Arkansas Officially, Methodism came to what is now Arkansas around 1815, when the Tennessee Conference established the Spring River Circuit in its Arkansas District and began appointing preachers to ride it.
At that time, the church had nearly 15,000 members.
The United Methodist Church today retains the structure Wesley created, adapting it from the Church of England in the eighteenth century.
The ruling body of the church is the General Conference, which has met regularly since 1784 and today includes both clergy and lay delegates.
The General Conference meets every four years to review the , the statement of beliefs of the church, to make changes or additions as needed.