At first the appointment of itinerant preachers to their circuits was made by Wesley himself, and from 1765 the list was published annually in the Minutes of Conference. After his death the Conference appointed a Stationing Committee, with a representative from each District, to prepare a draft for the Conference to adopt. In 1818 the General Committee of the Missionary Society was given responsibility for preparing the overseas stations. As early as 1803, however, the practice had arisen of petitioning the Conference for particular appointments and this led to direct invitations from circuits to ministers.
The same dual system developed in the other Methodist denominations (although in the early decades most PM stationing was done at District level and there was no connexional Stationing Committee until 1887) and this has persisted to the present. The final decision remains with the Conference, although the President has power under the Deed of Union to alter the stations in emergencies between Conferences.
Stationing is annual, although circuits may invite and the Conference designate for longer periods. John Wesley's Deed of Declaration imposed a legal limit of three years on appointments, although various devices were developed in time to evade its rigour, especially with respect to the central missions created from the 1880s on under the Forward Movement. During World War I the rule was suspended under the Wesleyan Methodists (Appointments during the War) Act 1917. The other Methodist denominations similarly limited the length of appointments. The rule was abolished by the Methodist Church Union Act (1929) and five years is now the circuit minimum. Extensions to seven or nine years or more are not uncommon. The Stationing Committee now comprises fourteen Chairs and lay representatives representing regional groupings of the 33 home Districts, together with some connexional officers, and works largely through committees, of which the most important are the Chairs' Meeting and the Stationing Advisory Committee.
The stationing of deaconesses was from the beginning the responsibility of the Warden of the Order, their stations being printed in the Minutes from 1946. In 1998 the stationing of ministers and deacons was combined and the Stationing Committee given responsibility for both, acting in the case of deacons on the advice of the Warden.
In 2011 general oversight of deployment policy was given to a newly-formed Ministries Committee.
Entry written by: BEB
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