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Decision No. 125

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April 25 1956
In Re: Ruling by Bishop Matthew W. Clair, Jr., on Paragraph 522 of the 1952 Discipline Re Election of Delegates to General Jurisdictional Conferences

Digest of Case

The Tennessee Annual Conference of the Central Jurisdiction with forty-one ministerial members is entitled to only one Ministerial and one Lay Delegate to the Jurisdictional Conference. These two are the Delegates elected to the General Conference.

Statement of Facts

At the annual session of the Tennessee Conference of the Central Jurisdiction held at Gallatin, Tennessee, on June 24, 1955, Bishop Clair announced that the Conference would begin to vote for one Ministerial and one Lay Delegate to the General Conference. He stated that in the light of the number of ministerial members, the Tennessee Conference is entitled to only one Ministerial and one Lay Delegate to the General Conference, and that these two persons shall also be the Delegates to the Jurisdictional Conference. Reserve Delegates shall then be elected to serve as Reserves both to the General and Jurisdictional Conferences. This interpretation was challenged and Bishop Clair was asked to rule on the interpretation of Paragraph 522 of the 1952 Discipline with reference to the election of Delegates to the General and Jurisdictional Conferences. Bishop Clair said that Paragraph 522 of the 1952 Discipline states that there shall be one Ministerial and one Lay Delegate to the Jurisdictional Conference for each 30 ministerial members of the Annual Conference, or a major fraction thereof. The Tennessee Conference has 41 members. Therefore, the Tennessee Conference is entitled to one Ministerial and one Lay Delegate to the Jurisdictional Conference. Bishop Clair then asked that the Conference proceed to elect one Ministerial and one Lay Delegate and delay further action until he could make an official ruling concerning the matter. The following item appears in the Journal of said Tennessee Conference for Saturday, June 25, 1955: "Bishop Clair stated that the Conference will proceed to vote on reserve Delegates for, in the light of further research regarding his interpretation of Paragraph 522, his original interpretation is correct. Therefore, the two Delegates elected yesterday will serve also as Delegates to the Jurisdictional Conference. The Reserves will serve for both Conferences." JURISDICTION From the items appearing in the official Journal of said Tennessee Annual Conference we may assume that both the request for a ruling and the ruling of Bishop Clair were submitted in writing. Paragraph 909 of the 1952 Discipline states: "The Judicial Council shall... pass upon the Decisions of Law made by the Bishops in Annual and District Conferences upon questions submitted to them in writing, and reported in writing to the Council with a syllabus of each case and affirm, modify or reverse them." From the above it is apparent that the Judicial Council is authorized to take jurisdiction. ANALYSIS Paragraph 7, Article III of the Constitution states: "The General Conference shall fix the ratio of representation in the General, Jurisdictional, and Central Conferences from the Annual Conferences, with the total ministerial membership in the Annual Conference as a basis, provided that each Annual Conference shall be entitled to at least one Ministerial and one Lay Delegate in the General Conference and also in the Jurisdictional or Central Conference." Paragraph 23, Article III of the Constitution states: "The Annual Conference shall elect Ministerial and Lay Delegates to the General Conference and to its Jurisdictional or Central Conference in the manner provided in this section, Articles IV and V at the session preceding the General Conference. The persons first elected up to the number determined by the ratio for representation in the General Conference shall be representatives in that body. Additional Delegates shall be elected to complete the number determined by the ratio for representation in the Jurisdictional or Central Conference, who together with those first elected as above shall be Delegates in the Jurisdictional or Central Conference. The additional Delegates to the Jurisdictional or Central Conference shall in the order of their election be the Reserve Delegates to the General Conference. The Annual Conference shall also elect Reserve Ministerial and Lay Delegates to the Jurisdictional or Central Conference as it may deem desirable." Paragraph 501, Section I of the 1952 Discipline states in part: "The General Conference shall be composed of one Ministerial Member for every seventy Ministerial Members of each Annual Conference and one additional Member for a majority fraction thereof and an equal number of lay members. . . ." Paragraph 502, Section 4 1952 Discipline states: "The General Conference recommends to the Annual Conferences that the Delegates to the General Conference be first elected on a separate ballot to be followed, after all the Delegates to the General Conference have been elected, by balloting for Delegates to the Jurisdictional Conference as Reserves to the General Conference." Paragraph 522 of the 1952 Discipline states: "The Jurisdictional Conference shall be composed of one Ministerial Delegate for every thirty Ministerial Members of each Annual Conference or major fraction thereof, and an equal number of Lay Delegates; provided that no Annual Conference shall be denied the privilege of two Delegates, one Lay and one Ministerial." We quote at length the above Paragraphs from the Constitution and General Conference legislation because they all have a bearing on a proper interpretation of said Paragraph 522 in question. In view of the above, the following facts are perfectly apparent: First, thesaid Tennessee Conference with only forty-one Ministerial Members is entitled to the minimum representation in the General Conference of one Ministerial and one Lay Delegate. Second, these two Delegates to the General Conference automatically become Delegates to the Jurisdictional Conference. Third, in order to have more than two delegates, one lay and one ministerial to the Jurisdictional Conference, the Tennessee Annual Conference must have at least forty-six ministerial members.

Decision

In view of the fact that said Tennessee Annual Conference has only forty-one members, it is the Decision of the Judicial Council that the ruling of Bishop Matthew W. Clair, Jr., to the effect that the two Delegates elected to the General Conference are the only Delegates to the Jurisdictional Conference should be, and is hereby affirmed.

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