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Decision No. 26

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May 02 1944
In Re: Meaning of "Church Members"

Digest of Case

The determination of the meaning of the words "Church Members" as used in Paragraph 871, Discipline 1940, is a legislative matter within the province of the General Conference, and is not a judicial matter to be settled by the Judicial Council, unless the question arises in some case legally pending before the Council.

Statement of Facts

FOR DECLARATORY DECISION On May 2, 1944, the General Conference referred to the Judicial Council the following communication with request that the Judicial Council answer the inquiry therein set forth: To the Members of the Judicial Council of The Methodist Church Brethren: In behalf of the publishing interests of The Methodist Church, we desire to ask of the Judicial Council a "Declaratory Decision" on the following question:Paragraph 971 of the Discipline of 1940 specifies: "The Board of Publication shall be constituted by the respective Jurisdictional Conferences, with a representation of each in proportion to Church membership upon a basis of one member of the Board for each 150,000 Church members or major fraction thereof within the Jurisdictional Conference; . . ." In order that there may be uniformity of action in each of the respective Jurisdictions, we desire a Decision on this question: Does the 150,000 churchmembers required as a basis for election include laymen and ministers or laymen only? There will be in these next Jurisdictional Conference sessions some changes in the number of members elected to this Board predicated on the changes in membership and it is necessary that we be able to notify the Jurisdictions of their proper action and assure uniformity. As the Board in charge of the Statistical Department of the Church, we desire to state that to the best of our knowledge and belief page 500 of the Discipline of 1940, which has on it a map of the various Jurisdictions and a statement of the membership of each Jurisdiction, was created to simply include the lay members of the Church. Therefore, if the membership of the several Jurisdictions are added to show the membership of the Church in the United States, it will not include the ministers. Purely for the purpose of information for the Judicial Council we desire further to state that we have issued to the Statistical Department instruction that when preparing a like map for the publication in the Discipline of 1944 two sets of figures shall appear in each Jurisdiction, (1) the number of lay members; (2) the number of ministers. With very great appreciation of the service being rendered to the Church by the Judicial Council, we are Respectfully yours, T. W. APPLEBY Vice-Chairman, Board of Publications B. A. WHITMORE FRED D. STONE Publishing Agents


After careful examination of the Discipline, of 1939 and the Discipline of 1940, and of the Journal and Daily Christian Advocate of the Uniting Conference, and of the Journal and Daily Christian Advocate of the General Conference of 1940, we can report only that we are unable to find any legislative interpretation of the meaning of the words "Church members" as used in connection with this subject. The General Conference is thoroughly competent to define such term as it may desire. Since there appears no legislation on the subject, it is our opinion that any definition given to the term "Church member" in connection with this matter should be by action of the General Conference rather than by judicial interpretation.

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