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Decision No. 198

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October 11 1962
In Re: Request of South Central Jurisdictional Council for a Declaratory Decision as to Whether It or the General Board of Education Has Authority to Fill Vacancies in the General Board of Education Between Sessions of the South Central Jurisdictional Conference

Digest of Case

A vacancy in a jurisdictional representation in the General Board of Education in the interim between Jurisdictional Conferences cannot be filled by either the South Central Jurisdictional Council or the General Board of Education. It shall be filled by the College of Bishops of that Jurisdiction. The authority given to a Jurisdictional Conference to elect members to the General Board of Education is a grant of authority that cannot be delegated.

Statement of Facts

A vacancy existed in the membership of the General Board of Education due to the transfer of Dr. William C. Finch from the Jurisdiction of the South Central Jurisdictional Conference to that of the Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference. The College of Bishops was notified of the vacancy and thereafter informed the General Board of Education that they were unanimous in nominating Dr. Marshall T. Steel to fill the vacancy. The records of the General Board of Education noted that the College of Bishops had named Dr. Steel to fill the vacancy and Dr. Steel was assigned to membership on those committees formerly served by Dr. Finch. On October 4, 1961, the Executive Secretary of the South Central Jurisdiction wrote the Recording Secretary of the General Board of Education that the South Central Jurisdictional Council had elected Dr. Durwood Fleming to membership on the General Board of Education to take the place of Dr. Finch. The letter stated that the South Central Jurisdictional Council was "legally empowered to act for the South Central Jurisdictional Conference." On March 5, 1962, the South Central Jurisdictional Council requested "a decision indicating which body the South Central Jurisdictional Council or the General Board of Education under the Constitution of The Methodist Church, has authority to elect necessary replacements on "The General Board of Education between sessions of the South Central Jurisdictional Conference." Jurisdiction In view of the authority set forth in the Constitution of the Jurisdictional Council of the South Central Jurisdiction of The Methodist Church we are of the opinion that it can be considered as a body of the South Central Jurisdictional Conference within the meaning of Paragraph 914 of the 1960 Discipline and is therefore entitled to file a petition for a declaratory decision and that this Judicial Council has jurisdiction to render a declaratory decision on this petition. Analysis Paragraph 1326 of the 1960 Discipline provides for the constituting of the membership of the General Board of Education consisting of bishops, jurisdictional members and members at large. In regard to jurisdictional members it states in part: "Each Jurisdictional Conference shall elect to themembership of the Board of Education on nomination of its Committee on Education one minister and one layman without regard to the number of members within the jurisdiction, and, in addition, one minister and one layman for each 400,000 members or major fraction thereof within the jurisdiction; provided that not more than two thereof shall be from any one Annual Conference." Paragraph 1105 of the 1960 Discipline states: "Unless otherwise specified,vacancies on boards and other agencies occurring during the quadrennium shall be filled as follows: an episcopal vacancy shall be filled by the Council ofBishops; a vacancy in jurisdictional representation shall be filled by the College of Bishops of that jurisdiction; a vacancy in the membership at large shall be filled by the agency itself." The Constitution of the Jurisdictional Council of the South Central Jurisdiction provides for a broad representational membership composed in part of bishops of the jurisdiction, chairmen or presidents of commissions, boards and societies, also the secretary and treasurer of the Jurisdictional Conference and the Jurisdictional Executive Secretary. The members serve from the adjournment of the Jurisdictional Conference through the quadrennium until the adjournment of the next Jurisdictional Conference. Under IV, The Functions and Authority of the Council, it provides: "Section I. The Council shall have authority: (2) To fill vacancies in the membership of the general boards and commissions constituted by representatives elected by the Jurisdictional Conference, occurring during the quadrennium, except as otherwise provided by the Discipline of The Methodist Church." The Discipline in Paragraph 1326 grants power to the Jurisdictional Conference to elect on nomination of its committee on education certain jurisdictional members. This is a power granted by the Constitution to the Jurisdictional Conference which calls for discretion, judgment, and broad knowledge of its members. It is not such a power as can be delegated or transferred to another body. The authority given to the Council as set forth above in IV, Section I, (2) also qualifies the authority given wherein it states "except as otherwise provided by the Discipline of The Methodist Church." The Discipline as quoted above in Paragraph 1105 does otherwise provide in that it expressly states that a vacancy in jurisdictional representation shall be filled by the College of Bishops of that jurisdiction.

Decision

It is therefore clear and we do decide that neither the South Central Jurisdictional Council nor the General Board of Education has authority to elect necessary replacements on the General Board of ]education between sessions of the South Central Jurisdictional Conference. A vacancy in a jurisdictional representation in the General Board of Education in the interim between Jurisdictional Conferences shall be filled by the College of Bishops of that jurisdiction. The authority given to a Jurisdictional Conference to elect members of the General Board of Education is a grant of authority that cannot be delegated.

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