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Decision No. 318

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October 31 1969
In Re: May an Annual Conference Require a Ministerial Candidate to Pledge to Abstain From the Use of Alcohol or Tobacco as a Condition for Ordination or Admission to Conference Membership.

Digest of Case

An Annual Conference may not add to or subtract from the basic ministerial obligations established by act of the General Conference.

Statement of Facts

The Southern Illinois Annual Conference meeting in regular session at the First United Methodist Church in East St. Louis, Illinois, on June 5, 1969, adopted the following petition: "Whereas a question has arisen in the Southern Illinois Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church regarding the propriety and constitutionality of an Annual Conference instructing the Board of Ministry of the Southern Illinois Annual Conference to require a ministerial candidate to pledge to abstain from the use of alcohol or tobacco as a condition for ordination or admission into the Annual Conference; "And whereas we are under the impression that this question, and the related one of the validity of any Annual Conference legislation of standards of ordination and conference membership that adds to that provided by the Book of Discipline under "The Ministry" (Paragraphs 301-399), has been raised in other parts of the church. "Therefore, BE IT RESOLVED that the Southern Illinois Annual Conference petition the Judicial Council of The United Methodist Church to render a declaratory decision clarifying whether or not an Annual Conference may require a ministerial candidate to pledge to abstain from the use of alcohol or tobacco as a condition for ordination or admission into the ministerial membership of that Annual Conference." Lance Webb, Presiding Bishop Robert R. Hollis, Secretary Southern Illinois Annual Conference JURISDICTION The Judicial Council has jurisdiction under the provisions of Paragraph 1715 of the 1968 Discipline. ANALYSIS In adopting Paragraphs 301-399 of the Discipline, the General Conference exercised its "full legislative power over all matters distinctively connectional" (Par. 15). The provisions include the qualifications for a license to preach (Paragraph 318) and conditions to be met by a candidate for election for probationary membership (Paragraph 326). The 1968 Discipline also defines the powers and duties of the Annual Conference thus: "The Annual Conference for its own government may adopt rulesand regulations not in conflict with the Discipline of The United Methodist Church...... (Par. 662.1) The General Conference has acted to establish the basic obligations and qualifications of candidates for license to preach and for admission to probationary membership in an Annual Conference (Paragraphs 318 and 326) and has thereby pre-empted this authority. The instructions to the Board of the Ministry proposed by the Southern Illinois Annual Conference are in conflict with the provisions of Paragraphs 318 and 326.

Decision

Any rule or regulation which seeks to add to or subtract from the provisions of Paragraphs 318 and 326 is in conflict with the Discipline of The United Methodist Church. This decision is in harmony with Judicial Council Decision No. 313.

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