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Decision No. 123

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April 25 1956
In Re: Ruling of Bishop Frederick B. Newell in the New York East Conference Regarding the Right of a Board of An Annual Conference to Present a Report Referring to Per- sons or Organizations in a Deroga- tory Manner Without Their Having Prior Notice

Digest of Case

An Annual Conference has the power to hear, discuss, amend, adopt or reject Reports from Conference Boards even though they contain material referring to persons or organizations in a derogatory manner without their having prior notice.

Statement of Facts

At the session of the New York East Annual Conference in May, 1955, the Conference Board of Social and Economic Relations presented a Report, part of which criticized a certain public official for his activities against a certain organization and a certain officer of that organization for alleged questionable activities. A Lay Member of the Conference requested a ruling from the presiding Bishop on the question: "May the Board of Social and Economic Relations present and have considered as a part of its regular Committee Report request for determinations or expressions approving or disapproving the character or intentions, motivations or orthodoxy of the private or professional conduct of State officials or citizens, (a) who are not members of the Conference, or (b) who have not received notice of the proposed action." After due consideration and consultation Bishop Newell ruled as follows: "The four referenced paragraphs of the Report of the Board of Social and Economic Relations of the New York East Annual Conference are ruled to be admissible for consideration, amendment if desired and for adoption." JURISDICTION In accordance with Par. 909 of the 1952 Discipline the Judicial Council has jurisdiction in this case. ANALYSIS Par. 22, Article II of the Constitution reads in part as follows: "The Annual Conference is the basic body in the Church and as such shall have reserved to it the right to vote on all Constitutional Amendments - and such other rights as have not been delegated to the General Conference under the Constitution with the exception that the Lay Members may not vote on matters of ordination, character and Conference relations of ministers. It shall discharge such duties and exercise such powers as the General Conference under the Constitution may determine." This gives the Annual Conference broad powers within the provisions of the Constitution of the Church. Paragraph 649 under Section IV of the 1952 Discipline entitled the "Business of the Conference" reads in part as follows: ". . . After the statistical questions have been answered, let the Boards, and Committees of the Conference make their Reports for discussion and adoption. . . ." There is no specific limitation in the Discipline with respect to the right of an Annual Conference to consider, amend, adopt or reject Reports submitted by its Boards or Commissions. It is the sole judge as to whether a Report submitted by one of its Boards or Committees shall be considered, amended, adopted, or rejected. It is to be noted that this is not a question of wisdom or good taste as evidenced in the content of the Report nor the effect of its adoption but rather of the right of the Conference to consider it and act upon it as it desires. There was no evidence submitted in connection with this case that the Report presented by the Board of Social and Economic Relations violated any of the rules previously adopted by the Annual Conference respecting Reports presented to it.

Decision

It is therefore the Decision of the Judicial Council that the Board of Social and Economic Relations or any other Board may present and have considered as a part of its regular Committee Report, request for determination or expressions approving or disapproving the character or intention, motivations or orthodoxy of the private or professional conduct of State officials or citizens, (a) who are not members of the Conference, or (b) who have not received notice of the proposed action. The ruling of Bishop Newell in this case is hereby affirmed.

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