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Decision No. 408

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April 23 1976
In Re: Request by the Council of Bishops for a Declaratory Decision to Determine Whether Paragraph 21 of the Constitution Will Remain in Force for the General Conference of 1980.

Digest of Case

Paragraph 21 of the Constitution of The United Methodist Church does not apply to the membership of the 1980 General or Jurisdictional Conferences. Neither does it apply to qualifications for members of boards and agencies of the Church selected for terms of office whose period of service is primarily within the 1981-84 quadrennium. The constitutional paragraph and all paragraphs of the Discipline implementing its provisions will be eliminated from the 1980 Discipline.

Statement of Facts

The Council of Bishops at its meeting in New Orleans, November 10-14, 1975 voted to ask the Judicial Council for a declaratory decision on the question: "Does Paragraph 21 of the Constitution of The United Methodist Church remain in force through the General Conference 1980 and if it does, does it require the continued application of the double representation formula as set forth in Paragraph 21 and interpreted by the Judicial Council in Decisions 333, 356, and 388?" JURISDICTION The Judicial Council has jurisdiction under Paragraph 1515.2b of the 1972 Discipline ANALYSIS The Council of Bishops, in explanation of its reason for seeking the ruling, has properly pointed out that there might be more than one possible interpretation regarding the exact time when Paragraph 21, by its own statement, becomes of no effect. The paragraph, which is within the restrictive rules of the Constitution, states, "At the termination of the first three quadrenniums following union, this Article VII shall be automatically deleted from the Constitution." The question at issue is, at what point in time do "the first three quadrenniums following union" end. "Quadrenniums" may begin and end at different times for different purposes. For example the practice in both former churches was that a new "quadrennium" began with the conclusion of a General Conference. But there was an exception for the fiscal "quadrennium." In the former Evangelical United Brethren Church the fiscal year was the calendar year. The General Conference was held in the fall and fiscally a new "quadrennium" began on January 1, next after the close of the General Conference. It was decided by the 1968 General Conference that the fiscal quadrennium of The United Methodist Church should begin on January 1 next following the regular meeting of the General Conference. An interim budget for the new church was set up for the period from the General Conference of 1968 to December 31 of that year. However, for other purposes the new "quadrennium" began with the close of the 1968 General Conference (Paragraph 1427, 1968 Discipline). This was changed by legislation of the 1972 General Conference. Paragraph 1291 of the 1972 Discipline states: "Unless otherwise specified in the Discipline for a specific purpose, the term 'quadrennium' shall be deemed to be the four year period beginning January 1 following the adjournment of the regular session of the General Conference." Paragraph 821 of the 1972 Discipline also fixes a like specific time for the beginning and ending of the fiscal quadrennium-January 1, 1973 to December 31, 1976. But these dates, fixed after the adoption of constitutional Paragraph 21, do not apply to that paragraph. Items related to provisions of that paragraph cannot be changed by the General Conference since Paragraph 21 is within the restrictive rules of the Constitution of the Church. In order to determine the time for the termination of the functioning of Paragraph 21 we must give attention to the specific purpose of the creation and inclusion of the paragraph in the Constitution of the Church. It has one and only one purpose. That is stated succinctly and with clarity in the paragraph itself. "In order that The Evangelical United Brethren shall be assured of effective representation in The United Methodist Church it is agreed that . . . during the first three quadrenniums following union . . ." Paragraph 21 was part of the proposed Constitution of The United Methodist Church set forth in the Plan and Basis of Union. This Constitution was approved by the 1966 session of the General Conference of The Methodist Church and the 1966 special session of the General Conference of The Evangelical United Brethren Church. Following that the necessary legislative steps for its adoption (approved by a two-thirds aggregate majority voted by the Annual Conferences of both of the uniting churches) were carried out prior to the convening of the Uniting Conference in 1968. The delegates for the 1968 General Conferences, which included the closing conferences of each of the two former churches, the Uniting Conference, and the first General Conference of The United Methodist Church, were elected so that they met the requirements of Paragraph 21 of the Constitution. Thus for the purpose of the fulfillment of the provisions of Paragraph 21, the first quadrennium of The United Methodist Church began with the declaration of union and the coming into being of The United Methodist Church. The delegates from the former Evangelical United Brethren Church, elected to fulfill requirements of the paragraph, were seated in the first General Conference of The United Methodist Church, May 4, 1968. The principal business of this Conference was ratification of all acts of the Uniting Conference. The delegates to this conference served the church through the ensuing four year period. Included in that service was membership in their respective Jurisdictional Conferences and in the 1970 special session of the General Conference. Persons selected for service on the various boards and agencies of the church also began their service immediately following union and continued to serve through the next four years. Thus the requirements of Paragraph 21 were met for the first quadrennium following union. In a similar manner delegates elected for the 1972 General and Jurisdictional Conferences met the requirements of Paragraph 21 for the second quadrennium following union. The delegates elected for the 1976 General and Jurisdictional Conferences will fulfill the requirements of the paragraph for the third quadrennium following union. This will complete the requirements of the provisions of Paragraph 21 for special representation from among members of the former Evangelical United Brethren Church. The same reasoning applies to membership on boards and agencies. Delegates for the 1980 General Conference and Jurisdictional Conferences will be elected within the calendar year 1979. They will not function as delegates at their respective conferences until 1980. Therefore, we hold that the double representation formula required by Paragraph 21 will not apply to their election. (If a special session of any of these conferences should be convened at any time prior to the meeting of its regular 1980 session the delegates to such special session would be the delegates elected for the 1976 regular session. If any Annual Conference should exercise its option to elect new delegates to such special session, such election would be bound by the requirements of Paragraph 21.) The delegates for the regular sessions of the 1980 General and Jurisdictional Conferences, since they legislate for the future, 1981 and beyond, and since their period of service continues until the regular sessions of their conferences in 1984, are delegates for the fourth quadrennium following union and therefore are not subject to the requirements of Paragraph 21. The fact that they are actually elected while Paragraph 21 continues in effect is not relevant since they will not function before its requirements will have been fulfilled. Paragraph 21 of the Constitution, although it will be part of the 1976 edition of the Discipline, does not apply to the qualifications of delegates to the 1980 General or Jurisdictional Conferences. Neither do its provisions apply to persons selected for positions on boards and agencies of the church to serve during any or all of the quadrennium which will begin officially on January 1, 1981. Paragraph 21 and all of the paragraphs implementing its provisions should be eliminated from the 1980 Discipline.

Decision

Paragraph 21 of the Constitution of The United Methodist Church does not apply to the membership of the 1980 General or Jurisdictional Conferences. Neither does it apply to qualifications for members of boards and agencies of the Church selected for terms of office whose period of service is primarily within the 1981-84 quadrennium. This constitutional paragraph and all paragraphs of the Discipline implementing its provisions will be eliminated from the 1980 Discipline.

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