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Decision No. 371

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November 08 1973
In Re: Ruling of the Reverend Ignacio P. Bautista, President Pro Tempore, 1973

Digest of Case

All ministerial members of an Annual Conference shall be counted in determining the maximum number of delegates to the Central Conference to which an Annual Conference may be entitled. Such ministerial members include members in full connection, probationary members and associate members, both active and retired. A Central Conference may fix a ratio of representation which is less than the maximum fixed by the General Conference. When an adjourned session of a Central Conference has been called, no changes in the ratio of representation may be made in the interim.

Statement of Facts

The Philippines Central Conference at its regular session, November 29 to December 3, 1972, voted that an adjourned session of the Philippines Central Conference be called in 1974. By authority of the conference, the Coordinating Council fixed the date of January 23-27, 1974, for the adjourned session. The Philippines Annual Conference, in session in May, 1973, elected the Rev. Ignacio P. Bautista to be President Pro Tempore. During the session, on May 18, the chair was asked to rule on the meaning of "ministerial members" of an Annual Conference for the purpose of fixing the number of delegates from the Philippines Annual Conference to the adjourned session of the Philippines Central Conference in 1974. Apparently the Philippines Central Conference had been interpreting "ministerial members" to mean members in full connection and the Annual Conferences had elected delegates to the Central Conference on this basis. The chair ruled that under Paragraphs 315. and 660.1 of the 1972 Discipline, ministerial membership in an Annual Conference includes members in full connection, probationary members and associate members, and that upon this definition and on the ratio of one ministerial delegate for every six members of an Annual Conference (Par. 630.1) the Philippines Annual Conference was entitled to elect three more ministerial and three more lay delegates to the adjourned session of the Philippines Central Conference. JURISDICTION This ruling is properly before the Judicial Council under Paragraphs 661.5 and 1512 of the 1972 Discipline. ANALYSIS In its Decision No. 327, the Judicial Council answered a similar question concerning the scope of ministerial membership in an Annual Conference as a basis for representation in the General Conference. It declared that ministerial membership in an Annual Conference includes members in full connection, probationary members and associate members, both active and retired, and that all such members are to be counted in determining the number of delegates to the General Conference to which an Annual Conference is entitled. While the present question before us concerns delegates to the Central Conference, it is in part the same question, namely the scope of ministerial membership in an Annual Conference. We re-affirm our Decision No. 327 and, insofar as the ruling of the Rev. Bautista conforms to this decision, we affirm his ruling. There are, however, two other matters involved in the ruling before us: 1,the authority of a Central Conference to fix, within limits, the ratio of representation from its Annual Conferences; 2, the composition of an adjourned session of a Central Conference. Paragraph 630.1 reads in part: "The Central Conference shall be composed of ministerial and lay members in equal numbers, the ministerial members elected by the ministerial members of the Annual Conference and the lay members by the lay members thereof. Their qualifications and the manner of election shall be determined by the Central Conference itself, subject only to constitutional requirements. Each Annual Conference and Provisional Annual Conference shall be entitled to at least two ministerial and two lay delegates, and no other selection of delegates shall be authorized which would provide for more than one ministerial delegate for every six ministerial members of an Annual Conference, except that a majority of the number fixed by a Central Conference as the ratio of representation shall entitle an Annual Conference to an additional ministerial delegate and an additional lay delegate." (emphasis added) It is clear that a Central Conference is given the authority to fix the ratio of representation from its Annual Conferences as long as the ratio fixed does not provide for more than one ministerial delegate for every six ministerial members of an Annual Conference which is the maximum fixed by action of the General Conference, using the definition of "ministerial members" as defined by Paragraphs 315 and 660.1. A Central Conference, however, has the authority to fix a ratio of representation which would provide for a smaller number of delegates from its Annual Conferences than the maximum allowed. While the Philippines Central Conference may have erred in equating "ministerial members" with members in full connection, its interpretation had the effect of fixing a ratio of representation below the maximum allowed by the Discipline which was, therefore, a valid ratio. It was accepted by the Annual Conferences which elected delegates to the 1972 session of the Philippines Central Conference. While the ruling by the President Pro Tempore of the meaning of ministerial membership in an Annual Conference is correct, any change in the ratio of representation must be by action of the Central Conference for future elections and not in the action of one Annual Conference in the interim between the regular and adjourned sessions of the Central Conference. We would point out again that the General Conference does not fix the ratio of representation in a Central Conference, only the maximum allowed. The Central Conference fixes its own ratio. Therefore, the ruling that the Philippines Annual Conference had the right to elect six more delegates to the adjourned session of the Philippines Central Conference is in error and should be reversed. Furthermore, the very nature of an adjourned session requires that its composition remain the same as in its regular session. The Discipline grants a Central Conference the right to hold such adjourned sessions as it may determine (Par. 630.3). Robert's Rules of Order (1970 edition, pages 79, 153, 373) points out that an adjourned session to continue business or to complete an election is a continuation of the session scheduling it. It takes up its work at the point where it was interrupted by the recess. The Judicial Council has held in Decision 221 (1964) that an adjourned session of a conference shall be composed of the same number of delegates elected to that conference.

Decision

The definition of ministerial membership in an Annual Conference in Paragraphs 315 and 660.1 is determinative of the meaning of "ministerial members" in Paragraph 630.1 as a basis for representation in a Central Conference. The General Conference fixes only the maximum ratio of representation for delegates to the Central Conference. Within that limitation the Central Conference fixes its own ratio of representation. That ratio cannot be changed in the interim between the regular and adjourned session of a Central Conference. The decision of law of the President Pro Tempore of the Philippines Annual Conference is affirmed in its interpretation of the scope of ministerial membership in an Annual Conference, but reversed in the ruling that the Philippines Annual Conference was entitled to six more delegates to the adjourned session of the Philippines Central Conference. The Philippines Central Conference, for all future elections, must adjust its ratio of representation to the definition of "ministerial members" affirmed by this decision.

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