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Decision No. 221

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October 29 1964
In Re: Request of the General Conference Commission on Entertainment and Program for Ruling as to the Meaning of the Final Sentence in Paragraph 509 of the 1964 Discipline

Digest of Case

The special session of the 1964 General Conference to be held in 1966, called pursuant to Paragraph 509 of the 1964 Discipline, is an adjourned session of the 1964 General Conference and shall be composed of the same delegates elected to the 1964 General Conference without change in number by reason of the elimination through transfer or merger of Annual Conferences subsequent to the regular session of said General Conference, or by reason of increase or decrease in membership of any Annual Conference. An Annual Conference may, in its discretion, conduct a new election to designate who shall serve as its delegates to the adjourned session of the General Conference.

Statement of Facts

Pursuant to the action of the 1964 General Conference authorizing a special session in 1966 (see May 4, 1964, Daily Christian Advocate, pages 319 and 491 in re amendment to report of Commission on Church Union), the Commission on Entertainment and Program of the General Conference addressed a request to the Judicial Council for ruling on the application of the final sentence of Paragraph 509 of the Discipline. Paragraph 509 as amended by the 1964 General Conference (see Report #23, Committee on Conferences, May 4, 1964, page 350, Daily Christian Advocate, adopted page 631) provides: "The General Conference, by a two-thirds (2/3) vote of the delegates present, or the Council of Bishops by a two-thirds (2/3) majority vote, or two-thirds (2/3) of all the Annual Conferences by a majority vote of each Annual Conference, shall have the power to call at any time an extra session of the General Conference to be held at such time as the Council of Bishops may choose and at such place as a committee chosen by the Council of Bishops may fix. The purpose of such extra session shall be stated in the call and only such business shall be transacted as is in harmony with the purpose stated in call. The General Conference thus called shall be composed of the delegates elected to the preceding General Conference, except when the Annual Conference shall prefer to have a new election." The request for ruling is based on the fact that by action of the 1964 Jurisdictional Conferences held subsequent to the 1964 General Conference, some Annual Conferences have been eliminated through transfer or merger. The specific questions raised are as follows: 1. Are delegates who were elected to the 1964 General Conference, by an Annual Conference, which has been eliminated subsequently through transfer or merger, entitled to be seated at the 1966 special session of the General Conference? 2. Are the Annual Conferences which receive additional members as a result of such subsequent transfers or mergers entitled to elect delegates to the 1966 special session of the General Conference on the basis of their ministerial membership as of their session in 1965, or are these Conferences entitled to only the same number of delegates at the 1966 special session as they elected to the 1964 regular session? JURISDICTION The Judicial Council has jurisdiction to make a ruling in the nature of a declaratory decision on this matter under Paragraph 914.2 of the 1964 Discipline . ANALYSIS We construe the action of the 1964 General Conference in adopting the report of the Commission on Church Union as amended to constitute the call of a limited adjourned session of the 1964 General Conference to be held in October, 1966. We interpret the final sentence of Paragraph 509 to mean that such session of the General Conference shall be composed of the same delegates and equal in number as elected to the regular session of the General Conference unless the Annual Conference from which such delegates were elected determines to elect other persons to serve as replacement delegates. The elimination of Annual Conferences through transfer or merger by action taken subsequent to the regular session of the General Conference does not deprive delegates of such Annual Conferences who were elected to the 1964 General Conference of their right to be seated at the extra session. In the event the Annual Conference from which a delegate was elected has been eliminated at the time of the extra session, such delegate shall become an additional delegate of the Annual Conference to which he is related at the time of the extra session. We construe the clause in the final sentence of Paragraph 509, to wit, "except when an Annual Conference shall prefer to have a new election," to mean that an Annual Conference has the right and discretion to hold a new election to select replacement delegates equal in number to those elected to the 1964 General Conference, but not to change the number of delegates by reason of transfer, merger, increase or decrease in membership.

Decision

The special session of the 1964 General Conference to be held in 1966, called pursuant to Paragraph 509 of the 1964 Discipline, is an adjourned session of the 1964 General Conference and shall be composed of the same delegates elected to the 1964 General Conference without change in number by reason of the elimination through transfer or merger of Annual Conferences subsequent to the regular session of said General Conference, or by reason of increase or decrease in membership of any Annual Conference. An Annual Conference may, in its discretion, conduct a new election to designate who shall serve as its delegates to the adjourned session of the General Conference.

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