The offices of bishop and district superintendent exist in The United Methodist Church as particular ministries. Bishops are elected and district superintendents are appointed from the group of elders who are ordained to be ministers of Word, Sacrament, and Order and thereby participate in the ministry of Christ, in sharing a royal priesthood which has aspostolic roots (I Peter 2:9; John 21:15-17; Acts 20:28; I Peter 5:2-3; I Timothy 3:1-7).
District superintendents were once called "presiding elders" in United Methodist churches, and still are in other Methodistdenominations. The term of office for a district superintendent usually is up to six years but he may serve eight consecutive years. She or he may serve no more than eight years in any consecutive eleven years and no more than fourteen years in his lifetime.
The task of superintending in The United Methodist Church resides in the office of bishop and extends to the district superintendent, with each possessing distinct and collegial responsibilities. The mission of the Church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. From apostolic times, certain ordained persons have been entrusted with the particular tasks of superintending. The purpose of superintending is to equip the Church in its disciple-making ministry. Those who superintend carry primary responsibility for ordering the life of the Church. It is their task to enable the gathered Church to worship and to evangelize faithfully.
It is also their task to facilitate the initiation of structures and strategies for the equipping of the Christian people for service in the Church and in the world in the name of Jesus Christ and to help extend the service in mission. It is their task, as well, to see that all matters, temporal and spiritual, are administered in a manner which acknowledges the ways and the insights of the world critically and with understanding while remaining cognizant of and faithful to the mandate of the Church. The formal leadership in the United Methodist Church, located in these superintending offices, is an integral part of the system of an itinerant ministry.
^The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church 2008: Chapter Three. The Superintendency. Section II. Offices of Bishop and District Superintendent - ¶ 402. Special Ministry, Not Separate Order(retrieved 2 October 2009).