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Decision No. 391

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November 08 1974
In Re: Appeal of the East Ohio Annual Conference from the Ruling of Bishop Francis E. Kearns that Paragraph 505 of the 1972 Discipline Prohibits the Granting of a Voting Relationship in the Conference to Consecrated Lay Workers.

Digest of Case

The ruling of Bishop Francis E. Kearns that an Annual Conference cannot grant to lay workers as a class the right to vote in sessions of the Annual Conference is correct; however, a person who is a lay worker may be elected to membership in an Annual Conference.

Statement of Facts

During the session of the East Ohio Annual Conference, on June 18, 1974, the Conference was in the process of perfecting a formula for the equalization of lay and clergy membership of the Conference. In the course of debate an amendment to a motion was made that would include the category of deaconesses and home missionaries in the formula for lay persons. Bishop Francis E. Kearns ruled "that by his interpretation of the Discipline, Paragraph 505, consecrated lay workers cannot be granted a vote as part of any formula for the equalization of lay and clergy membership." By the necessary vote the Conference referred the matter to the Judicial Council for decision. JURISDICTION The Judicial Council has jurisdiction under Paragraph 1511 of the 1972 Discipline. ANALYSIS We interpret the ruling of Bishop Kearns to mean that the Annual Conference may not grant to the lay worker as a class the right to vote in sessions of the Annual Conference. Paragraph 505 states that the lay workers (as a class) shall be seated in the Annual Conference session and shall be given the privileges of the floor without vote. However, we see nothing in the legislation that prohibits a person who is a lay worker from being elected to membership in the Annual Conference. Thus a person who is a lay worker may be elected to membership in the Annual Conference.

Decision

The ruling of Bishop Francis E. Kearns that an Annual Conference cannot grant to lay workers as a class the right to vote in the Annual Conference session is correct. On the other hand, a person who is a lay worker may be elected to membership in the Annual Conference.

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