Skip Navigation

Judicial Council Decisions Search


Decision No. 77

Back to Search

Share:

November 26 1951
In Re: Rulings of Bishop William T. Watkins at the 1951 Session of the Kentucky Annual Conference

Digest of Case

1. A report to an Annual Conference, containing a financial statement which the Discipline requires to be audited, should not be approved until the audit is made and the financial statement is shown to be correct. Other parts of the report may be approved pending such audit. 2. The Discipline does not specify the manner of presenting nominations for Conference Lay Leader to the Annual Conference; hence oral nominations are permissible unless the Annual Conference has provided otherwise. 3. In the Kentucky Annual Conference the nomination of the Conference Lay Leader, to be valid, must be made by the Annual Conference Board of Lay Activities by ballot at a meeting of such Board, at which a majority of the members of the Board are present and voting, and by a majority vote of the members of the Board present and voting. 4. The Discipline does not require that a certificate reciting the process by which the nomination was determined shall be presented with the nomination. When the nomination of a Conference Lay leader is presented to the Annual Conference by a representative of the Board of Lay Activities, the regularity of same will be presumed in the absence of a showing to the contrary.

Statement of Facts

At the 1951 session of the Kentucky Annual Conference, Marcus C. Redwine, a Lay Member of the Annual Conference propounded in writing to Bishop William T. Watkins the following questions: 1. "Can the annual Report of the Conference Board of Lay Activities be approved before compliance with Paragraph 722 'Audit' of the 1948 Discipline?" 2. "Can a Conference Lay Leader be nominated, except on certificate in writing that at a regular meeting, with a quorum present, that person so nominated was so named by ballot by a majority of said quorum of the Conference Board of Lay Activities?" 3. "May the nomination of the Board of Lay Activities for Conference Lay Leader be made orally, or must it be made in writing?" To these questions Bishop Watkins made answer in writing before the Annual Conference. Therefore the Judicial Council has jurisdiction to hear and determine the issues involved in the rulings of Bishop Watkins above referred to.

Decision

The first question propounded is as follows: "Can the annual Report of the Conference Board of Lay Activities be approved before compliance with Paragraph 722 'Audit' of the 1948 Discipline?" To this question Bishop Watkins answered as follows: "The failure by oversight of a Board of an Annual Conference to observe some legal requirement does not prevent a Board from making a Report to the Annual Conference, nor does it invalidate the right of an Annual Conference to accept the Report." Before passing judgment upon this ruling of Bishop Watkins we call attention to the fact that the Kentucky Conference, under its Rule 21, operates, as far as they apply, under the Rules of the last General Conference; "otherwise Robert's Rules of Order, Revised, shall govern the procedure in the Annual Conference." (See Judicial Council Decision 66.) Paragraph 53 of Robert's Rules of Order states that a motion to "accept" a Report is equivalent to adopting the Report. Paragraph 54 of Robert's Rules of Order provides: "If it [the Report] is a Financial Report, as in the case of a Board of Trustees or a Treasurer, it should be referred to an Auditing Committee, as the vote to accept the Report does not endorse the accuracy of the figures, for the assembly can only be sure of that by having the report audited. Whenever such a Financial Report is made, the Chair, without any motion, should say it is referred to the Auditing Committee or auditors." In this case we have no record to show what disposition was made of the financial portion of the Report of the Board of Lay Activities: It is pertinenthere to say that in the light of the provisions of Paragraph 722 of the 1948 Discipline, and the above quotations from the rules governing the Kentucky Conference, it was improper for that Conference to accept, in the sense of adopting, the financial Report of the Conference Board of Lay Activities until same had been audited and the figures found to be correct. In no wise should the provisions of Paragraph 722 of the Discipline be ignored or disregarded. Even though some of the District Lay Leaders may not have reported, the Board should have presented its Report on the data at hand and had its financial statement audited, thus placing the blame for the incomplete Report where it belonged. However, other portions of the Annual Report which do not relate to finances can be considered by the Conference at the will of the Conference. In so far as Bishop Watkins' ruling relates to matters that are not financial and which are not required to be reviewed by anybody except the Annual Conference, it is hereby affirmed. The financial part of the Report should have been referred to the Auditing Committee for audit and report. The second question propounded is as follows: "Can a Conference Lay Leader be nominated, except on certificate in writing that at a regular meeting, with a quorum present, that person so nominated was so named by ballot by a majority of said quorum of the Conference Board of Lay Activities?" To this question Bishop Watkins answered as follows: "When a member of a subordinate body makes a nomination to the Annual Conference for that body it is not necessary for him to state that the subordinate body has kept the law of the Church in arriving at its decision. Failure by the one making the nomination to state that the vote was by ballot and that there was a quorum present does not invalidate the nomination. Neither law nor custom requires such." With this portion of the Bishop's ruling we concur and same is hereby affirmed. To the third question: "May the nomination of the Board of Lay Activities for Conference Lay Leader be made orally or must it be made in writing?" The Bishop made answer as follows: "There is no requirement in Paragraph 1494 of the Discipline that the nomination be in writing." The Discipline does not specify the manner of presenting nominations for Conference Lay Leader to the Annual Conference; hence oral nominations may be made unless the Annual Conference has provided otherwise. We have no evidence of any action on the part of the Kentucky Annual Conference requiring such nomination to be in writing. The questions propounded, however, have implications that are more far-reaching than the matter of whether the nomination can be made orally, or must be made in writing. They seem to inquire as to what constitutes a quorum, and what constitutes a legal nomination for Conference Lay Leader in the Kentucky Conference. For a nomination for Conference Lay Leader in the Kentucky Conference to be valid, same must be determined by the Conference Board of Lay Activities by ballot, as provided in Paragraph 1494 of the Discipline. For said Conference Board of Lay Activities to make a valid nomination there must be a majority of the members present and voting, and the nominee must receive a majority of the votes of the members present and voting. This statement is supported by the following: 1. The Kentucky Annual Conference is governed as far as possible by the Rules of the last General Conference. The Rules of the last General Conference (Handbook for Delegates, the General Conference, 1948, pp. 179-80, Section 3 of Paragraph 4) provide that a majority of the members of its Committees shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business. 2. Robert's Rules of Order, Page 258, provides that in the absence of a specific provision for a lesser number, a quorum consists of a majority of the body. 3. In the former ruling of Bishop Watkins above referred to, relating to the election of a Conference Lay Leader in the Kentucky Conference, Bishop Watkins ruled that to constitute a quorum for the nomination of a Conference Lay Leader a majority of the Conference Board of Lay Activities was required to be present and that a nomination made at a meeting of the Board at which a majority of the members of the Board was not present was invalid. Mr. Redwine in his brief filed in the pending case, states: "That was acorrect ruling." The Judicial Council concurs in this statement of the law. A nomination made otherwise is illegal and invalid. It is the decision of the Judicial Council, however, that when such nomination is made to the Annual Conference by a representative of the Board, the regularity of the proceeding by which such nomination was determined will be presumed in the absence of a showing to the contrary. We draw an inference from the meager record before us that Brother Redwine, who propounded these questions to the Bishop, was present when the proceedings complained of took place. There is nothing in his brief or in the Bishop's ruling indicating that there was any irregularity in arriving at the nomination presented. We cannot hold that it was the duty of the Bishop to engage in an investigation of the proceedings of the Conference Board of Lay Activities in determining the nomination before putting same to the vote of the Conference. We feel that it would have been the moral duty of anyone knowing the facts to challenge such proceeding if there had been any irregularity therein. There is no evidence in the record indicating such irregularity. Bishop Watkins, in his statement in support of his ruling, asserts that there was a quorum of the Board present, and that the nomination was made by ballot, and that the nomine reported to the Annual Conference received a majority of the votes of the members present and voting. He further states: "All of these facts are conceded by the Plaintiff." Brother Redwine, in his brief, makes no denial of this assertion, but states that it is "totally outside the record." Since the record is silent as to any indication of irregularity in connection with the nomination it can safely be presumed that there was no irregularity, and that the nomination and election were legal and valid. Except as herein before modified, the rulings of Bishop Watkins are affirmed.

Back to Search

Share: