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Decision No. 169

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May 01 1960
In Re: Constitutionality of a Transfer of an Annual Conference from One Jurisdiction into Another

Digest of Case

An Annual Conference may be transferred from one Jurisdiction into another under Division Two, Section VIII, Article V.2 (Amendment IX) of the Constitution.

Statement of Facts

At the session of the General Conference on April 29, 1960, the following motion was made and adopted: "That we ask the Judicial Council for a declaratory decision on the constitutionality of an invitation from a Jurisdictional Conference to Annual Conferences outside its geographical boundaries to transfer to its membership in the light of Amendment IX as well as Section I, Article IV, Item 12, and Section VIII, Articles I and Ill." JURISDICTION We have jurisdiction under Division Four, Article II.5 of the Constitution (Paragraph 43, 1956 Discipline) as held in Decisions 88 and 131. ANALYSIS Though the motion concerns "the constitutionality of an invitation," in view of the debate before the motion was passed, we interpret the question to concern the constitutionality of a transfer of an Annual Conference from one Jurisdiction into another Jurisdiction pursuant to such an invitation. Division Two, Section I, Article IV.12. (Paragraph 8) of the Constitution states: "The General Conference shall have full legislative power over all matters distinctly connectional, and in the exercise of said powers shall have authority as follows:....... 12. To change the number and boundaries of Jurisdictional Conferences upon the consent of a majority of the Annual Conferences in each Jurisdictional Conference involved." Division Two, Section VIII, Article I (Paragraph 26) states: "The Methodist Church in the United States of America shall have Jurisdictional Conferences made up as follows:" and then specifies the composition of each in states, geographical areas and Negro Conferences. Article III (Paragraph 28) of that Division and Section provides: "Changes in the number, names and boundaries of the Jurisdictional Conferences may be effected by the General Conference upon the consent of a majority of the Annual Conferences of each of the Jurisdictional Conferences involved." Division Two, Section VIII, Article V.2. (Amendment IX) now provides: "An Annual Conference may be transferred from one Jurisdictional Conference to another upon approval by: (a) The Annual Conference desiring transfer, by a two-thirds majority of those present and voting. The Secretary of the Conference shall certify the vote to the College of Bishops of the Jurisdiction of which the Conference has been a part. (b) The remainder of the Jurisdiction from which transfer is to be made, by a two-thirds majority of the total Annual Conference members present and voting. The vote shall be taken in the other Annual Conferences of the Jurisdiction and certified by their Secretaries to the College of Bishops which shall determine whether two-thirds of the total vote in the Jurisdiction is favorable. (c) The Jurisdiction to which transfer is to be made, by a two-thirds majority of the total Annual Conference members present and voting. The vote shall be taken in the various Annual Conferences of the Jurisdiction and certified by their Secretaries to the College of Bishops, which shall determine whether two-thirds of the total vote in the Jurisdiction is favorable. Upon announcement by the two Colleges of Bishops of the required majorities, the transfer shall immediately be effective." V. 4 of that Division and Section says: "Transfers under the provisions of this Article shall not be governed or restricted by other provisions of this Constitution relating to changes of boundaries of conferences." The quoted provisions of Article V conflict with the provisions of the Constitution previously quoted, and the question to be decided is simply which prevails. A much used rule of construction is that the last enacted of conflicting provisions is construed to govern. This is because the enacting body is deemed to have had the previous provisions in mind and must have intended that its latest expression control. In this instance this rule of construction based on intention is confirmed by Article V.4. Though the wording there is quite broad, it certainly clearly expresses the intent that the provisions of Article V are to be superior to any others in the Constitution "relating to changes of boundaries of Conferences." It follows that under Division Two, Section VIII, Article V.2 (Amendment IX) an Annual Conference may be transferred from one Jurisdiction into another without regard to the geographical boundaries of the Jurisdictions involved.

Decision

An Annual Conference may be transferred from one Jurisdiction into another Jurisdiction without regard to the geographical boundaries of the Jurisdictions involved, and such procedure under Division Two, Section VIII, Article V.2 (Amendment IX), is constitutional.

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