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Decision No. 5

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May 01 1940
In Re: Election of Delegates to Jurisdictional Conferences by Mission Conferences

Digest of Case

That part of Paragraph 492, Discipline 1939, which attempts to grant to members of a Mission Conference the right to elect Delegates to Jurisdictional Conferences is unconstitutional.

Statement of Facts

This matter comes before the Judicial Council as an appeal by one fifth of the members of the General Conference. The question as to the constitutionality of Paragraph 492 of the Discipline is stated in the following manner: "WHEREAS, the Plan of Union provides that an appeal may be made to the Judicial Council regarding the constitutionality of an action of the General Conference upon the appeal of one fifth of the members of the General Conference (Paragraph 43, Section 1) and "WHEREAS, the Plan of Union designates that the delegates to the Jurisdictional Conference shall be chosen from the Ministerial and Lay members of the Annual Conferences (Section 13) and "WHEREAS, in the Legislation in the Discipline, Paragraph 492, the following statement occurs: 'A Mission Conference may elect one Ministerial and one Laydelegate to the Jurisdictional Conference,' which seems to be in contradiction to the above mentioned statement in the Plan of Union; THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, That the General Conference request the Judicial Council to consider the constitutionality of the statement in Paragraph 492 and report to the General Conference its Decision." (See Daily Christian Advocate, Page 262.) Paragraph 13 of the Discipline which is a part of the Constitution reads as follows: "The General Conference shall fix the basis of representation in the Jurisdictional Conferences, provided that the Jurisdictional Conferences shall be composed of an equal number of Ministerial and Lay delegates, the Ministerial to be elected by the Ministerial members of the Annual Conferences and the Lay delegates by the Lay members." Paragraph 492 reads as follows: "A Mission Conference is authorized toexercise the powers of an Annual Conference . . . and its members . . . may elect one Ministerial and one Lay delegate to the Jurisdictional Conference."

Decision

It is the fundamental law that the Annual Conference is the basic body of the Church, and as such shall have reserved to it, inter alia, the right to vote on the election of Ministerial and Lay delegates to the General and the Jurisdictional or Central Conferences. (See Paragraph 22, Discipline 1939.) Reference to other paragraphs of the Constitution confirms the conclusion that the Annual Conference only is the body to which is granted the right to elect delegates to General and Jurisdictional Conferences. The granting to the General Conference of the power to define and fix the powers of Mission Conferences must be construed in connection with the other provisions of the Constitution, and cannot be construed to give unlimited authority to create other Conferences, whether they be called Mission Conferences, Provisional Conferences, or otherwise, which would take rank with Annual Conferences, and have equal powers and duties. The Constitution clearly intends that the General Conference shall give only such powers to Mission Conferences as may not be in conflict with the basic law of the Church to which reference has been made. It follows therefore that such part of Paragraph 492 of the Discipline which attempts to grant to "the members" of Mission Conferences the right to elect Delegates to Jurisdictional Conferences must be declared unconstitutional.

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