The Desert Southwest Conference of The United Methodist Church

Our Structure

Structural Overview

With more than 23,033 members, the Desert Southwest Conference consists of approximately 125 churches and is one of 54 conferences in the United States, out of 134 annual conferences worldwide.

Churches are grouped geographically into districts. The Desert Southwest Conference has four districts. Each year, clergy and lay representatives from each church gather together for the annual conference and sometimes vote to create new churches. Conferences in the United States are grouped together by geographical areas into Jurisdictions. Outside of the US, geographical grouping like this are called Central Conferences and European Conferences. The Desert Southwest Conference is part of the Western Jurisdiction. Each jurisdiction meets every four years and sometimes elects new bishops.

All bishops across the world group together to form the Council of Bishops. It is one of the three governing bodies of The United Methodist Church (UMC). The other two bodies are the Judicial Council, and the General Conference. The General Conference typically gathers every four years. 

(Refer to the links and definitions below to learn more about the italicized terms.)

Desert Southwest Conference Ministry and Leaders

Our Bishop

Episcopal Leader of the DSC

Our Churches

Find our ministries and connect

Our Clergy

Active and Retired Photo Directory


Committees, Boards, and Task Forces

Our Staff

Conference and District Staff

District Pages

North District

North District

North District

East District

South District

South District

West District

West District

UMC Structure

Judicial Council

The denomination’s highest judicial body.

General Conference

The only body that can set official policy and speak for the denomination.

Council of Bishops

Bishops of The UMC provide spiritual leadership.


Connectional Structure Infographic.


Learn about who we are as a denomination, how we serve, and ways to grow.

Connectional Structure and Geographic Areas

Definitions of Structures

Annual Conference: The terms Annual Conference and Conference are interchangeable, referring to the collection of churches within a geographical area. The Annual Conference is the basic body of The United Methodist Church that represents churches (laity and clergy) to the General Conference and holds these churches in community and connection throughout the year, culminating in an annual meeting. This annual meeting, led by a bishop and composed primarily of clergy and lay members, is where the decisions on how to live faithfully in the community as United Methodists are made. The Desert Southwest Conference includes Arizona, southern Nevada, and the river cities of California.

Districts: Each Conference is subdivided into districts, which a district superintendent leads. There are four districts within the Desert Southwest Conference: East, North, West, and South.

Jurisdictional Conference: The regional collection of Annual Conferences in the United States meets after General Conference to elect bishops for their geographical region and determine how to organize regional ministry per The Book of Discipline. The Desert Southwest Conference is in the Western Jurisdiction.

General Conference: The global meeting of The United Methodist Church that gathers every four years and when specially called. Voting delegates (half clergy, half laity) are elected from each Annual Conference to vote on matters of church law. General Conference is the only body that speaks on behalf of the entire denomination.

Central Conference: The regional collection of Annual Conferences outside the United States meets to determine how to carry out contextually appropriate ministry per General Conference and elect bishops for their geographical region.