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Decision No. 477

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April 20 1980
In Re: Constitutionality of Making Local Pastors, under Full Time Appointment to a Pastoral Charge, Ministerial Members of the Annual Conference with Limited Voting Rights.

Digest of Case

The General Conference has authority to define local pastors under full time appointment to a pastoral charge as ministerial members of the Annual Conference with limited voting rights.

Statement of Facts

The General Conference in session April 21, 1980, requested the Judicial Council to render a declaratory decision on the constitutionality of proposed Par. 700.2: Local pastors under full-time appointment to a pastoral charge shall have the right to vote in the Annual Conference on all matters except constitutional amendments; election of delegates to the General, Jurisdictional, or Central Conferences; and matters of ordination, character, and conference relations of ministers. The Legislative Committee on Conferences asked these questions: 1. Can an Annual Conference grant limited voting rights to those who are not members of the conference? (See Pars. 36 and 37) 2. If limited voting rights are granted, do the full-time local pastors become members of the Annual Conference? JURISDICTION The Judicial Council has jurisdiction under Par. 2507.2 of the Discipline. ANALYSIS Par. 36 of the Constitution grants authority to the General Conference to define the ministerial members of the Annual Conference. The Annual Conference does not have authority to define its own ministerial membership. Under that authority, the General Conference has defined the following categories of ministerial members of the Annual Conference: members in fullconnection, probationary members and associate members. (Par. 412 and Par. 700) The present Par. 700.2 refers in part to Local Pastors in charge of pastoral appointments and grants to them the privilege of the floor in the Annual Conference without the right to vote. The proposed amended Par. 700.2 would give to "Local Pastors under full-time appointment to a pastoral charge" (See Par. 409.1) the right to vote in the Annual Conference limited by certain restrictions. For the proposed legislation to be constitutional the General Conference would have to define the Local Pastor under full-time appointment to a pastoral charge as a ministerial member of the Annual Conference. The General Conference must also designate any limitation upon the power to vote.

Decision

The General Conference has authority to define local pastors under full time appointment to a pastoral charge as ministerial members of the Annual Conference with limited voting rights.

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