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Decision No. 137

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October 17 1957
In Re: Standards for Wesley Foundations

Digest of Case

The General Conference acted within its constitutional powers in directing the Board of Education of The Methodist Church through its Division of Educational Institutions to appoint a COMMISSION ON STANDARDS FOR WESLEY FOUNDATIONS to establish standards and evaluate the educational, religious, and financial program of Wesley Foundations and report to the division the Wesley Foundations which meet the standards established by the Commission and therefore qualify for financial support from the General Board of Education and the Annual Conferences.

Statement of Facts

On June 22, 1957, the Judicial Council received the following communication from Jay N. Bostrom, Conference Secretary, The Minnesota Annual Conference of The Methodist Church: "To: The Judicial Council of The Methodist Church "The Minnesota Annual Conference in its recent session called for a declaratory decision of the Judicial Council. The following excerpt from the daily journal for Saturday, June 15, 1957, gives the action taken. "'Referral to Judicial Council W. A. Korfhage presented the following resolution: "That the Minnesota Conference in session at Hamline MethodistChurch, St. Paul Minnesota, on Saturday, June 15, 1957, petition the Judicial Council of The Methodist Church, the Hon. J. Ernest Wilkins, President, for a declaratory decision on Paragraph 1368, of the 1952 Discipline (Paragraph 1367 of the 1956 Discipline), and upon the means used by a General Conference Board in enforcing this paragraph. The parties affected are The National Board of Education, and the Committee of 11 on qualifications. This petition is authorized by Paragraph 914 of the 1952 Discipline." 0. D. Jackson moved referral without further debate. Seconded and carried.' "I am sending this to you so that it may be placed on the agenda for the next meeting of the Judicial Council. If additional information is desired, I am certain that Rev. Wilbur A. Korfhage und others in the Minnesota Conference will be glad to supply it. Sincerely, /s/ Jay N. Bostrom, Conference Secretary The Minnesota Annual Conference of The Methodist Church" JURISDICTION Under Sub-Section 8, Paragraph 914 of the 1956 Discipline, the Judicial Council has jurisdiction to render a declaratory decision on the question thus submitted to it by the Minnesota Annual Conference. ANALYSIS While the resolution adopted by the Minnesota Annual Confererence requesting this declaratory judgment is not as precise and clear as might be desired, the apparent purpose of said resolution is to ask a declaratory judgment on the constitutionality of Paragraph 1367 of the 1956 Discipline of The Methodist Church and, if constitutional, the methods by which the requirements imposed in pursuance of said paragraph are to be enforced by the Board of Education and its Commission on Standards for Wesley Foundations. The first question relates then to the authority of the General Conference to enact said Paragraph 1367. The Constitution of The Methodist Church, Division Two, Section I, Article IV (Par. 8), introductory Subsection, provides that "The General Conference shall have full legislative power over all matters distinctively connectional, and in the exercise of said powers shall have authority as follows:" Following this introductory statement a series of specific items falling under the legislative power of the General Conference is listed. Sub-Section 8, Article IV (Par. 8), Section I, Division Two, of the Constitution of The Methodist Church reads: "To initiate and to direct all connectional enterprises of the Church, such as publishing, evangelistic, educational, missionary, and benevolent, and to provide boards for their promotion and administration." From the time of union this Judicial Council has consistently ruled that "The General Conference is the supreme legislative body of The Methodist Church and has been specifically empowered to legislate on all matters distinctively connectional. The Constitution specifically enumerates many items over which the General Conference shall have such authority in legislating, so as to make all such matters uniform throughout the Church." (Judicial Council Decision 7, 1940) Again, this Judicial Council has ruled: "Article IV, Section 1, Division Two of the Constitution (Paragraph 8 of the 1948 Discipline) grants to the General Conference full legislative power over all matters distinctively connectional. This is a broad grant of power, and unless there is found elsewhere in the Constitution some modification of, or a limitation to this power, the General Conference has the right to prescribe, etc." (Judicial Council Decision 83, 1952) Thus the General Conference clearly has constitutional authority to enact legislation regulating the educational program of The Methodist Church, and acted under the Constitution in establishing the Board of Education of The Methodist Church with the provision that "The board shall have general oversight of the education interests of the church in the United States." (Paragraph 1325, 1956 Discipline) Further General Conference enactment provides that in the structure of said Board of Education "There shall be a Division of Educational Institutions, which shall represent The Methodist Church in all activities connected with secondary, higher, and ministerial education. The division shall have an advisory relationship to all educational institutions affiliated with The Methodist Church: universities, colleges, schools, schools of theology, and WesleyFoundations in the United States.... Its principal objectives shall be: . . . tofoster within these institutions the highest educational standards and soundest business practices." (Par. 1351, sections 1 and 2 (b) ) Furthermore, in Paragraph 1366, the General Conference has stated that "A Wesley Foundation is the organized educational ministry of The Methodist Church at a state or independent college or university. The character of this ministry shall be defined by the division...." Pursuant to the principles established by the legislation cited above, the General Conference adopted Paragraph 1367 of the 1956 Discipline: "The division shall appoint a Commission on Standards for Wesley Foundations, which shall be the standardizing agency for all student work related to The Methodist Church at state and independent campuses in the United States. It shall be composed of six members of the division and five persons, not members of the General Board of Education, who are actively engaged in Wesley Foundation work, and who are fitted by training and experience to establish standards and evalute the educational, religious, and financial program of Wesley Foundations. This commission shall report to the division of the Wesley Foundations which meet the standards established by the commission and therefore qualify for financial support from the General Board of Education and the Annual Conferences." All of the above legislation falls within the powers of the General Conference, under the Constitution and, being in the imperative, is mandatory upon the Board of Education, Division of Educational Institutions, for execution. The second question propounded by the Minnesota Annual Conference finds explication in Paragraph 1367 of the Discipline which requires that "The division shall appoint a Commission on Standards for Wesley Foundations, which shall be the standardizing agency for all student work related to The Methodist Church at state and independent campuses in the United States," and provides that "This Commission shall report to the division the Wesley Foundations which meet the standards established by the Commission and therefore qualify for financial support from the General Board of Education and the Annual Conferences." The means to be used by The Board of Education and its Division of Educational Institutions in enforcing requirements for standardization are thus

Decision

It is the decision of the Judicial Council that the General Conference acted within its constitutional powers in the enactment of Paragraph 1367 of the 1956 Discipline and that the provisions of said paragraph direct the Division of Educational Institutions of The Board of Education of The Methodist Church through a Commission on Standards for Wesley Foundations to establish standards and evaluate the educational, religious, and financial program of Wesley Foundations and that only Wesley Foundations which this Commission reports to the Division of Educational Institutions as having met the standards established by the Commission qualify for financial support from the General Board and the Annual Conferences as approved Wesley Foundations. Dissent Ivan Lee Holt, Jr., Donald A. Odell and Lester A. Welliver dissent from this Decision on the grlounds that the Judicial Council lacks jurisdiction as noted in the Dissent to Decision No. 136.

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