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Decision No. 105

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July 19 1954
In Re: The Request of the Council of Bishops for Declaratory Decision Concerning the Meaning of the Words

Digest of Case

The words "upon recommendation of the Committee on Conference Relations" do not mean that an Annual Conference cannot act contrary to its Committee's recommendation if it wishes to do so.

Statement of Facts

At the session of the New York East Annual Conference in May, 1953, the question was raised concerning the interpretation of Paragraph 365 of the 1952 Discipline. The first two sentences of this Paragraph read: "A supernumerary minister is one who, because of impaired health or other equally sufficient reason, is temporarily unable to perform full work. This relation shall not be granted for more than five years in succession, except by two-thirds vote of the Conference, upon recommendation of the Committee on Conference Relations, and a statement of the reason for such recommendation." The question is, do the words "upon recommendation of the Committee on Conference Relations" mean that the Conference cannot grant supernumerary relation for more than five years if its Committee on Conference Relations is unwilling to vote for such recommendation? JURISDICTION The Council of Bishops having asked the Judicial Council for a Declaratory Decision on the question submitted, the Judicial Council under Paragraph 914 of the 1952 Discipline has jurisdiction to grant the request. ANALYSIS Paragraph 22, Article 11, of the Constitution reads as follows: "The Annual Conference is the basic body of the Church, and as such shall have reserved to it the right to vote on all Constitutional Amendments, on the election of Ministerial and Lay Delegates to the General and the Jurisdictional or Central Conferences, on all matters relating to the character and Conference relations of its ministerial members, etc." Paragraph 8, (sub. 3) of the Constitution reads as follows: "The General Conference shall have full legislative power over all matters distinctly connectional, and in the exercise of that authority shall have authority as follows: "3. To define and fix the powers and duties of the Annual Conferences," This provision of the Constitution might be interpreted as in conflict with Paragraph 22 quoted above. That apparent conflict can be resolved easily when we consider the wording of Paragraph 22 which says that the right to "vote" on the character and conference relations of its ministerial members is reserved to the Annual Conference. That right to vote being reserved to the Annual Conference the General Conference has no power or authority to abridge that right. The General Conference in Paragraph 8 (3) of the 1952 Discipline can prescribe procedure to be followed leading up to the vote, or to be followed preceding the vote but it cannot deny or abridge the right to vote regardless of the recommendation of the Committee through which the matter is brought before the Annual Conference for action. To say that the Annual Conference could not vote to extend the supernumerary relation for more than five years unless the Committee on Conference Relations recommended such extension would be an abridgment of this right to vote on all such matters reserved to the Annual Conference in the Constitution. Its right to determine by vote all such matters cannot be delegated to any Committee. The words "upon recommendation of the Committee on Conference Relations" if valid at all, must be interpreted to mean that before a vote is taken on such extension of the Supernumerary relationship, the matter must be referred to the Committee on Conference Relations for a recommendation either for or against such extension. The Annual Conference after receiving such recommendation may in its discretion, vote just the opposite to such recommendation. Its right to vote cannot be abridged by the recommendation of the Committee. The Committee on Conference Relations is elected by the Annual Conference as provided in Paragraph 638 of the 1952 Discipline. This Committee, therefore, is the creature of the Conference. If the Conference cannot vote against the recommendation of a Committee of its own election, if it wishes to do so, then it must be concluded that it, the Conference, is helplessly caught in its own web. The Constitution of the Church having declared the Annual Conference to be the basic body in the Church does not, however, give the Annual Conference authority "for it to delegate its powers in such a manner as to deprive itself of that basic or ultimate power." (See Judicial Council Decision No. 38.)

Decision

The answer to the question asked, therefore, is: the words "uponrecommendation of the Committee on Conference Relations" do not mean that the Conference cannot grant supernumerary relation for more than five years if it wishes to do so in spite of the contrary recommendation of its Committee. The right to vote "on all matters relating to the character and Conference relations of its ministerial members" is specifically reserved to the Annual Conference by the Constitution and cannot be abridged by any act of the General Conference. (See Paragraph 22, 1952 Discipline.)

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