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Decision No. 496

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April 23 1981
In Re: The Program Agency Status of the Standing General Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns and its Amenability, Accountability and Relationship.

Digest of Case

The Standing General Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns is a program-related General Agency and between sessions of the General Conference is accountable to the General Council on Ministries. The Commission elects a general secretary, subject to confirmation by the GCOM.

Statement of Facts

Under date of December 30, 1980 the General Council on Ministries sent to the Judicial Council a request for a declaratory decision: ... as to the interpretation and application of Pars. 802, 803, 813, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005.6. 2007 and other appropriate paragraphs of The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church (1980) relating to the proper status of the Standing General Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns as to its being either a program-related general agency or a combination of both, and as to its amenability, accountability and relationship within the existing structure of The United Methodist Church. The General Council and the Commission submitted a joint brief dated February 27, 1981. JURISDICTION The Judicial Council has jurisdiction under Par. 2615 of the 1980 Discipline. ANALYSIS The request from the General Council on Ministries deals with two basic matters: (1) the identity of the Standing General Commission on Christian Unityand Interreligious Concerns as a program-related general agency or an administrative general agency, or a combination of both, and its consequent amenability, accountability and relationship within the existing structure of The United Methodist Church, and (2) the election process for the general secretary of the Commission. Since the Commission was identified as a program agency when the 1980 General Conference added it to Par. 802, and since thereby it is made accountable to the General Council on Ministries, we conclude that the General Conference was establishing the Commission as a program-related General Agency. Pars. 2002, 2003, 2004 have to do with Purpose (2002), Responsibility (2003), and Authorities and Powers (2004) of the Commission. All these have to do with program and/or advocacy functions. (See definition of Program-related General Agencies, Par. 803.5.) Additionally, subparagraphs 2003.15 and .19 relate the Commission directly to the GCOM. Further, Par. 1006.20, under the "General Council on Ministries", Responsibilities, requires the GCOM "to receive reports from and refer matters to the Standing General Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns ..." Although General Conference action (Daily Christian Advocate, Page 1044) did specify that the Commission was to be included in Par. 803, it did not indicate whether it should be placed in 803.5 as a general program agency or in 803.6 as an administrative agency. In view of Pars. 802, 2002-2004, 2007 and 1006.20 vis-a-vis Par. 803.5 and .6, the Standing General Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns belongs properly within Par. 803.5 and not within Par. 803.6. Since the Commission is a general program agency, Pars. 813 and 1006.15 relative to the election of general secretaries apply to it as to all other program agencies. Par. 2005.6 reads: "The commission shall elect a general secretary and suchother staff as may be required and for which budget is ensured." (Emphasis added.) Par. 2005.6 as printed in the Discipline is not the legislation adopted by the General Conference. Calendar Item, 68, DCA pages 754-758 was adopted by the General Conference. It reads in part, "The Commission shall elect an executive (general) secretary for confirmation by the General Council on Ministries . . . " It should be noted that though the language of Par. 2005.6 as actually adopted differs from Par. 813, the practical effect is essentially the same since the election of the general secretary by the Commission is subject to confirmation by the GCOM.

Decision

The Standing General Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns is a program-related General Agency and between sessions of the General Conference is accountable to the General Council on Ministries. The Commission elects a general secretary subject to confirmation by the GCOM.

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