Skip Navigation

Judicial Council Decisions Search


Decision No. 238

Back to Search

Share:

November 07 1966
In Re: Ruling of Bishop Jose L. Valencia in the Northwest Philippines Annual Conference Concerning the Right of an Annual Conference to Hold a New Election of Delegates to Attend an Adjourned or Special Session of the General Conference

Digest of Case

It is the privilege of an Annual Conference under Paragraph 509 of the 1964 Discipline to hold a new election of delegates to represent it at an adjourned or special session of the General Conference and by such new election it may replace those delegates who represented it at the regular session of the General Conference. This right of a new election is not conditional. It does not depend upon the death, resignation, disqualification or inability of prior elected delegates to serve. It is not a matter which is discretionary with the Presiding Bishop.

Statement of Facts

This proceeding is an appeal from a ruling by Bishop Jose L. Valencia, the Presiding Bishop in the Northwest Philippines Annual Conference held at Paniqui, Tarlac, Philippines, May 11-15, 1966. The facts relating to this appeal, as certified by Rev. Victor C. Vinluan, Secretary of the conference, are as follows: A motion was duly moved and seconded that a new election of delegates to the General Conference be held to determine who would represent the Annual Conference at the adjourned session of the General Conference at Chicago, Illinois, November 7, 1966. Following debate but before vote, a substitute motion was duly made, seconded and carried requesting the Presiding Bishop to rule upon the right of the Annual Conference to conduct a new election in light of our Decision No. 221. Thereafter, Bishop Valencia presented to the conference a statement reviewing that decision, pointing particularly to our holding that the special 1966 session of the 1964 General Conference is an adjourned session. On this basis, Bishop Valencia stated: "If the same delegates elected to the 1964 General Conference do not waive their rights as delegates . . . ; or if there is no valid or legitimate reason by which said delegates cannot serve as the annual conference delegates to said adjourned session, such as death, lingering or incurable sickness, withdrawal from the ministry and membership of the Methodist Church, location, supernumerary relations, suspension or expulsion from the Methodist Church, the same delegates elected to the 1964 General Conference shall serve as the annual conference delegates to the adjourned session of the General Conference." His formal ruling was as follows: "By virtue of the authority given to the Presiding Bishop by the Northwest Philippines Annual Conference on May 14, 1966; by virtue of the fact that 'the same delegates elected to the 1964 General Conference' do not waive their rights to serve as delegates to the adjourned session of said General Conference; and by virtue of the fact that there is no valid or legitimate reason, as stated above, by which said delegates cannot serve as delegates to said adjourned session, I, therefore, rule that the statement of the Judicial Council in its Decision 221, 'The Special session of the 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...,' prevails and, therefore, 'the same delegates elected to the 1964 General Conference' by the Northwest Philippines Annual Conference 'shall serve as its delegates to the adjourned session of the General Conference.'" With 98 delegates entitled to vote, on motion duly made and seconded, the Annual Conference voted to appeal the ruling to us by vote of 52 "for" and 46 "against." JURISDICTION The Judicial Council has jurisdiction to hear and determine this appeal under Paragraph 908 of the 1964 Discipline. ANALYSIS The ruling of Bishop Jose L. Valencia is patently erroneous and violates the clear and unambiguous provisions of Paragraph 509 of the 1964 Discipline, which reads as follows: "509. The General Conference by a two-thirds vote of the delegates present, the Council of Bishops by a two-thirds vote, or two-thirds of all the Annual Conferences by a majority vote of each 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 the call. The General Conference thus called shall be composed of the delegates elected to the preceding General Conference, except when an Annual Conference shall prefer to have a new election." (italics supplied) We are at a loss to understand any justification for the qualifications which Bishop Valencia read into the last sentence of this paragraph and for the misreading of our Decision No. 221. The last sentence of Paragraph 509 makes a new election of delegates to serve at a special or adjourned session a matter of preference of the Annual Conference, not a matter of filling vacancies. The filling of vacancies because of the death, resignation, disqualification or incapacity to act of a delegate or delegates is governed by the provisions for reserve delegates to the General Conference found in the Constitution (Paragraph 23, 1964 Discipline) and in Paragraph 504.4 of the Discipline. Likewise, nothing in Decision No. 221 justified the extrapolation indulged in by Bishop Valencia. In that case, we said: "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." (italics supplied) In our Decision No. 228, decided April 24, 1965, we said: "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." Regrettably, this appeal comes to us too late for remedial action to be taken by the Northwest Philippines Annual Conference which by reason of the erroneous ruling has been denied an important privilege of our connection, namely, the unqualified right to be represented at an adjourned session of the General Conference by a delegation chosen at a new election following the regular session of the General Conference of 1964.

Decision

The Northwest Philippines Annual Conference was entitled to hold a new election of General Conference delegates to represent the Annual Conference at the adjourned session of the General Conference in Chicago, Illinois, commencing November 7, 1966. Bishop Valencia's ruling to the contrary was in clear violation of Paragraph 509 of the 1964 Discipline and is therefore reversed.

Back to Search

Share: