Outside the United States, annual conferences are organized into seven Central conferences. The Central conferences are composed of an equal number of laity and clergy. They connect annual conferences for the common Department, adapt regulations as may be required, by conditions in the respective regions and to elect Bishops (book of Discipline, ¶ 31) and fix their mandate.
The Central conferences were created for the first time in the Episcopal Church Methodist in Asia (India in 1885, China in 1897), and Europe (1908) and in Africa and Latin America in the 1920s.
In the 1930s and 1960s, for various reasons, the annual conferences outside the United States have become autonomous, especially in most of the regions of Asia and Latin America. A large majority of these independent churches are affiliated with churches unified independent or affiliated to the Church United Methodist and send delegates without voting rights at the General Conference.
Since the beginning of the 1970s, membership in the Central conferences has increased significantly, and the number of members exceeds by far that of the 1920s and 1960s.
Africa Central Conference
Today, Africa includes three central conferences:
- Africa: Contains five Episcopal areas, 10 annual conferences and a Department in 11 countries;
- Congo: Contains four Episcopal areas, 14 annual conferences and a Department in nine countries;
- West Africa: contains four Episcopal areas, six annual conferences and a Department in six countries.