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Decision No. 58

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May 05 1948
In Re: Special Act of General Conference Concerning Ordination of Elders in Germany Central Conference

Digest of Case

Under the Constitution, the General Conference has unlimited authority, inter alia, to define and fix the qualifications of elders and deacons, and accordingly a special act of the General Conference prescribing that in the Germany Central Conference the ordination of an elder may take the place of ordination as a deacon, and that the ordination as a deacon may be omitted, is constitutional.

Statement of Facts

At a session of the General Conference on May 7, 1948, there was adopted, on a memorial presented by the Germany Central Conference, Report No. 21, Committee on Ministry, Serial No. 157, Daily Christian Advocate, page 271, which amended Paragraph 579, Discipline 1944, relating to the ordination of ministers in a Central Conference by adding thereto the following "or that the ordination of an elder may take the place of the ordination as deacon, and the ordination as deacon be omitted." The Report was amended so that it applies only to Germany Central Conference, and not to all Central Conferences. See Daily Christian Advocate, pages 418, 419. It was therefore enacted as special legislation only for Germany Central Conference. The General Conference immediately after the adoption of the report, by the proper vote, referred this action to the Judicial Council to determine its constitutionality.


According to Par. 8, Art. IV, Sec. 2 of the Constitution, the General Conference has authority "To define and fix the qualifications and duties of elders, deacons, supply preachers, local preachers, exhorters, and deaconesses." Section 14 of Par. 8, Art. IV provides that the General Conference has the authority "To enact such other legislation as may be necessary subject to the limitations and restrictions of the Constitution of the Church." Since there is no constitutional limitation on the power of the General Conference in this matter, this act, therefore, is constitutional. Dissenting Opinion J. Stewart French dissents on the ground that The Methodist Church recognizes two orders in the ministry, deacons and elders, and neither may be omitted, nor one substituted for the other without doing violence to the historic position of The Methodist Church regarding ministerial orders. H. R. Van Deusen joins in this dissent.

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