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Decision No. 109

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July 20 1954
In Re: Instruction of Lay and Reserve Members of an Annual Conference by an Official Board or a Quarterly Conference

Digest of Case

An Official Board or a Quarterly Conference has no authority in the law of The Methodist Church to order or instruct lay or reserve members to vote in any prescribed manner on issues expected to come before an Annual Conference.

Statement of Facts

A request for an Episcopal Decision was made at the 1954 session of the Central Texas Annual Conference as follows: "Whereas, the Official Board of First Methodist Church, Coleman, Texas, in regular session on June 7, 1954, did adopt by majority vote a motion that the lay member and reserve lay members of the Annual Conference from that church be ordered and instructed to vote against any motion, Report, or Resolution that might be presented to the Annual Conference favoring any relaxation of the practice of racial segregation in Methodist institutions as it existed at the time that the Supreme Court of the United States rendered its recent Decision concerning racial segregation in public schools, "Therefore, a formal request is made for an Episcopal Decision to the following question, 'Does an Official Board of a Methodist Church, or a Quarterly Conference, have the authority to order and instruct its lay member or reserve lay members of the Annual Conference to vote in any specified manner on matters coming before the Annual Conference?"' Bishop William C. Martin, presiding, gave his written Decision as follows: "In conformity with the generally accepted principle that delegated members of a Church Council shall be free to make decisions in the light of facts and discussions concerning issues that are considered by such body, the Discipline of The Methodist Church does not authorize an Official Board or a Quarterly Conference 'to order and instruct its Lay Member or Reserve Lay Members of the Annual Conference to vote in any specified manner on matters coming before the Annual Conference."' JURISDICTION The Judicial Council is authorized to take jurisdiction under Par.909 of the 1952 Discipline.

Decision

The Judicial Council affirms the action of the Bishop as presented above and adopts his statement as the Decision of the Council.

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