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Decision No. 346

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October 07 1971
In Re: Age of Lay Delegate at Time of Election to General or Jurisdictional Conference.

Digest of Case

A lay delegate to a General or Jurisdictional Conference must be twenty-one (21) years of age at the time of election.

Statement of Facts

On June 11, 1971, the Central Illinois Annual Conference adopted the following resolution: "Resolved that the Central Illinois Conference of The United Methodist Church request from the Judicial Council a declaratory decision relative to Article V, Section VII of the Constitution; specifically we wish to know whether a lay delegate to the General and/or Jurisdictional Conference need be 21 years of age at the time of election, provided he reaches the statutory age by the time of the Conference or Conferences to which he is elected." JURISDICTION The Judicial Council has jurisdiction under Paragraph 1715 of the 1968 Discipline. ANALYSIS The matter before us has to do with the minimum age of a lay delegate to a General or Jurisdictional Conference. It is governed by a constitutional provision, Section VII, Article V (Paragraph 40 of the Discipline) which reads as follows: "The lay delegates to the General Conference and to the Jurisdictional or Central Conferences shall be elected by the lay members of the Annual Conference or Provisional Annual Conference; provided that such delegates be at least twenty-one (21) years of age and shall have been members of one of the constituent churches forming this union or of The United Methodist Church for at least four years next preceding their election, and are members thereof within the Annual Conference electing them at the time of holding the General and Jurisdictional or Central Conferences." While the quoted provision involves some unclarity as to the critical time or times when the qualifying tests must be met, we believe that it is as of the date of the Annual Conference election that the age requirement applies rather than the subsequent dates of convening General, Jurisdictional or Central Conferences. The specification "that such delegates be at least twenty-one (21) years of age" is found in close juxtaposition to the antecedent electoral reference. Similarly it is closely and conjunctively linked to the following requirement of church membership which for four years must exist "next preceding their election." We do not overlook the final clause which also requires church membership to continue "within the Annual Conference electing them at the time of holding the General and Jurisdictional or Central Conferences." This final clause merely gives assurance of Annual Conference representation by lay delegates who are members of the conference's own local charges. It operates to terminate the delegate status of any person who though duly qualified and elected subsequently transfers out of his conference. Our interpretation that a lay delegate must be twenty-one (21) years of age at time of election is supported by the disciplinary provisions for the immediate certification of delegates elected to the General Conference. Paragraph 601.3 provides in part: ". . . The secretaries of the several Annual Conferences shall furnish certificates of election to the delegates severally and shall send a certificate of such election to the secretary of the preceding General Conference immediately after the adjournment of the said Annual Conferences."

Decision

By the provision of Paragraph 40 of the Discipline (Constitution Section VII, Art. V) the requirement that lay delegates to General, Jurisdictional or Central Conferences be at least twenty-one (21) years of age applies as of the date of the Annual Conference election.

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