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Decision No. 493

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October 30 1980
In Re: Constitutionality of Par. 810.5 (1980 Discipline) Which Makes any VotingMember of a General Agency a Voting Member of the Corresponding Annual Conference Agency, in Light of its Apparent Conflict with Par. 706 of the 1976 Discipline. (708.2, 1980 Discipline)

Digest of Case

No member of a general program agency may be at once a voting member of the corresponding Annual Conference agency and of the Annual Conference Council on Finance and Administration. In any case in which such conflicting dual membership would not be created, Par. 810.5 is legal and may be followed. The paragraph in no way prohibits non-voting memberships where they may be established by the Discipline or by action of an Annual Conference.

Statement of Facts

The 1980 General Conference adopted new legislation which makes any voting member of a general church agency a voting member of the corresponding annual conference agency. Par. 810.5 the Discipline states: A voting member of a general agency, by virtue of such membership shall become a voting member of the corresponding agency of the Annual Conference, unless such membership would conflict with Par. 723.1. The conflict suggested in Par. 723.1 has to do with membership in the Annual Conference Board of Ordained Ministry which makes no provision for membership of the laity. On July 8 , 1980, the Executive Committee of the General Council on Ministries voted to request a declaratory decision from the Judicial Council concerning the constitutionality of Par. 810.5 because of an apparent conflict with Par. 708.2 which restricts a member of the Annual Conference Council on Finance and Administration from voting membership on any other program agency or Council on Ministries of the Annual Conference. A resolution adopted by the General Council on Ministries in the Fall, 1979, meeting gives the Executive Committee authority to act ad interim for the body in such matters. A timely request to the Judicial Council by an executive committee duly authorized so to act does not raise a question of policy, as was the case in Decision No. 429. Therefore, the Judicial Council accepts the request as coming from the General Council on Ministries. Par. 708.2 states: No member or employee of any conference agency and no employee, trustee, or director of any agency or institution participating in the funds of any conference budget shall be eligible for voting membership on the council ... JURISDICTION The Judicial Council has jurisdiction under Par. 2615 of the 1980 Discipline . (Par. 2515 1976 Discipline) ANALYSIS The apparent conflict between Pars. 810.5 and 708.2 raises two questions. First: Can a voting member of a general agency be a voting member of thecorresponding agency of an Annual Conference if the said voting member is also a voting member of an Annual Conference Council on Finance and Administration (CFA)? Second: Does the addition of the word "voting" to Par. 708.2 in the 1980Discipline which specifically establishes the category of a "voting member", permit by implication, where the conflict exists, for a membership on one of the agencies to be with voice but not vote? We are asked for a decision as to whether: (a) a voting member of a general agency may serve as a member of acorresponding conference agency with voice but not vote if that person is a voting member of the conference agency with voice but not vote if that person is a voting member of the conference CFA; (b) a voting member of a general agency may be a voting member of the corresponding conference agency and serve as a member of a conference CFA with voice but not vote. Par. 708.2 clearly prohibits any member of another Annual Conference agency or institution which receives financial support from the conference budget(s) from a voting membership on the Conference CFA. This prohibition was included in the first Discipline of The United Methodist Church in 1968, and has been continued without interruption since. See also Judicial Council Decision No. 10. The wording was slightly changed from the 1976 to the 1980 Discipline, which would suggest that it was consciously and intentionally included and reaffirmed. There is no evidence that the 1980 General Conference, in adopting Par. 810.5 intended to dilute or repeal the provisions of Par. 708.2. Indeed, Par. 810.5 is written in such a way as to attempt to avoid possible conflict with Disciplinary provisions. That it failed to anticipate and avoid conflict with Par. 708.2 does not indicate that the General Conference intended it to replace, supersede, or nullify Par. 708.2. We conclude that it was the intent of General Conference that no member of an Annual Conference agency participating in conference budget funds should serve as a voting member of the Annual Conference Council on Finance and Administration. Any non-voting memberships which may exist through other provisions are not affected.

Decision

No member of a general program agency may be at once a voting member of the corresponding Annual Conference agency and of the Annual Conference Council on Finance and Administration. In any case in which such conflicting dual membership would not be created, Par. 810.5 is legal and may be followed. The paragraph in no way prohibits non-voting memberships where they may be established by the Discipline or by action of an Annual Conference.

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