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Decision No. 414

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October 29 1976
In Re: Petition from the Iowa Annual Conference for a Declaratory Decision on the Legality of the Last Sentence in Paragraph 657 of the 1972 Discipline.

Digest of Case

The petition received from the Iowa Annual Conference asked the Judicial Council to give a Declaratory Decision regarding the legality of the last sentence in Paragraph 657 of the 1972 Discipline. The paragraph reads: "The Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference shall have the same right as that given to Central Conferences in Par. 631.9, .10 to make such changes and adaptations regarding the ministry and ordination of ministers as the effective use of indigenous leadership in the Missionary Conference may require; Provided that no action shall be taken which is contrary to the Constitution and the General Rules of the United Methodist Church. Any such ordination would be effective only within the bounds of the Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference." At the time this petition was first before the Council, April 3-5, 1975, the materials which were presented showed that not only the Iowa Annual Conference, but also the Oklahoma Annual Conference and certain Boards and Agencies of the Church were concerned with the problems of the Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference and that preliminary steps were being taken to bring some of these problems to the attention of the General Conference and to present legislation for clarification and solution. With this information the Council determined that it would be best to hold the matter until after the close of the 1976 General Conference, when the action of that conference would be known. In keeping with this determination the Council issued Memorandum 393 explaining its action. The General Conference received and acted upon proposed legislation concerning the Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference. Among the actions taken was a revision of Paragraph 657. The revised paragraph now appears as Paragraph 693 in the 1976 Discipline and reads as follows: "The Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference shall have the same right as that given to Central Conferences in P. 652.9, .10 to make such changes and adaptations regarding the ministry and ordination of ministers as the effective use of indigenous leadership in the Missionary Conference may require; Provided there is approval by the Division of Ordained Ministry of the General Board of Ministry and Higher Education; and Provided further, that no action shall be taken which is contrary to the Constitution and the General Rules of The United Methodist Church." By this revision of the paragraph, which deletes what was formerly its last sentence, the specific question asked by the Iowa Conference becomes moot.

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