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Decision No. 228

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April 23 1965
In Re: Request of the General Conference Commis- sion on Entertainment and Program for Ruling Clarifying Decision No. 221

Digest of Case

While the session of the General Conference to be held in 1966 is an adjourned session to be composed of the delegates elected to the 1964 General Conference, individual delegates have no vested right to serve as such in the adjourned session and may be replaced by the Annual Conferences which they represent in the event of a new election held pursuant to the final sentence of Paragraph 509. The provision for new elections under Paragraph 509 is not limited solely to those Annual Conferences which have not been merged or consolidated with other Annual Conferences since their election of delegates to the 1964 General Conference. A new election may also be held by any Annual Conference which is the survivor or product of a merger or consolidation of two or more Annual Conferences which separately were represented by delegates to the 1964 regular session of the General Conference. It is only in the case of an Annual Conference which has ceased to exist, by reason of the transfer of its churches to other Annual Conferences, that no provision for a new election under Paragraph 509 is made. Such Annual Conferences having been eliminated by such transfers and enjoying no legal continuity of existence through merger or consolidation obviously cannot be embraced in the election provisions of the final sentence of Paragraph 509 of the Discipline. Paragraph 509 of the Discipline is applicable to adjourned as well as special sessions of the General Conference and is constitutional. In the event there shall exist a vacancy in any delegation entitled to be seated at the adjourned session of the General Conference, such vacancy shall be filled in the usual manner governing the seating of reserves in regular sessions of the General Conference.

Statement of Facts

We have received from the General Conference Commission on Entertainment and Program a written request dated April 24, 1965 that we clarify our Decision No. 221, particularly with respect to the conditions under which delegates elected to the 1964 General Conference by an Annual Conference which has since been merged or consolidated with another Annual Conference may be replaced as a result of a new election pursuant to the final sentence of Paragraph 509 of the Discipline: also that we pass on the constitutionality of that paragraph. JURISDICTION The Judicial Council has jurisdiction to make a ruling in the nature of a declaratory decision in this matter under Paragraph 914 of the Discipline. ANALYSIS Nothing which we said in our Decision No. 221 was intended to suggest that a delegate elected to a regular session of the General Conference has a vested right under all conditions to be seated in any adjourned session of such Conference. Such a delegate serves in a representative capacity and his tenure may be the subject of General Conference legislation. It is our view that the General Conference has validly legislated with respect to said matter in Paragraph 509 of the Discipline wherein it has provided for new elections under certain circumstances. It is our further opinion that Paragraph 509 of the Discipline, relating to an "extra" session of a General Conference, is equally as applicable to an adjourned session as it is to a special session. We find Paragraph 509 of the Discipline to be constitutional and not in conflict with the provisions of the Constitution found in Paragraph 23 of the Discipline. See Decision No. 226. It was our intention to hold in Decision No. 221 and we now affirm that any existing Annual Conference which has not been merged or consolidated with any other Annual Conference since the election of its delegates to the 1964 regular session of the General Conference is entitled to hold a new election of delegates to the adjourned 1966 session if it prefers to do so. Similarly, any Annual Conference which is the survivor or product of a merger or consolidation of Annual Conferences theretofore existing separately at the time of the 1964 regular session may hold, if it chooses to do so, a new election to replace the delegates who were members of the delegations representing the constituent Annual Conferences involved in such merger or consolidation. By "merger or consolidation," we refer not only to statutory proceedings of that nature but also to any other voluntary proceedings having essentially the same legal effect. It is only in the case of an Annual Conference which has been eliminated by the transfer of its churches to one or more other Annual Conferences that there can be no new election because such an Annual Conference has ceased to exist and enjoys no continuity as a constituent part of an Annual Conference surviving a merger or consolidation. Accordingly, the delegates heretofore elected by such an Annual Conference, which has since ceased to exist, are not subject to replacement by a new election. In the event there shall exist a vacancy in any delegation entitled to be seated at the adjourned session of the General Conference, such vacancy shall be filled in the usual manner governing the seating of reserves in regular sessions of the General Conference. To the extent any language in our Decision No. 221 shall appear to be at variance with the views herein expressed, the same shall be understood to be modified and revised so as to accord with our decision and analysis herein.

Decision

We adhere to the views expressed and to our Decision No. 221 as clarified in the manner set forth above.

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