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Decision No. 511

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October 29 1982
In Re: Equalization of Lay and Clergy Members in Missionary Conferences.

Digest of Case

No lay persons may be elected by a Missionary Conference except as stated in Discipline Pars. 36 and 658.5 or to equalize lay and clergy membership. The Bishop's ruling is not sustained.

Statement of Facts

The Alaska Missionary Conference in session on June 4, 1982 voted to appeal to the Judicial Council a ruling by Bishop Calvin D. McConnell. The ruling declared invalid the Conference action of 1981 allowing the election of lay persons in excess of the number of clergy members. JURISDICTION The Judicial Council has jurisdiction under Par. 2611 of the 1980 Discipline. ANALYSIS The issue is whether the Alaska Missionary Conference, by its own formula, may elect lay members in excess of the number required to equalize the lay with the ministerial members. The last sentence of Par. 36 of the Constitution, which was added as an amendment in 1972 specifically to provide for equalizing lay membership with ministerial in Annual Conferences, but with no provision to equalize ministerial with lay membership (see Judicial Council Decision No. 479), treats of the matter at hand-the organization of a Missionary Conference being the same as that of an Annual Conference with certain exceptions not here pertinent. (Par. 658, 1980 Discipline) The sentence reads: If the lay membership should number less than the ministerial members of the Annual Conference, the Annual Conference shall, by its own formula, provide for the election of additional lay members to equalize lay and ministerial members of the Annual Conference. Four qualities characterize this constitutional provision: it isconditional, mandatory, purposeful and specific. Conditionally, it is applicable only to those situations in which the lay membership numbers fewer than the ministerial. In such situations the conference is mandated to equalize the lay with the ministerial membership, by its own formula. The purpose or intent of applying the formula specifically is to equalize (emphasis added) lay and ministerial members. What is to be done, how, and under what circumstances is stated clearly, specifically and unambiguously. These four qualities obtaining, the Alaska Missionary Conference has only the right and responsibility to apply its formula when the specific situation or condition exists. Where the constitution is explicit, definite, and specific a body cannot go beyond what is specified. The Bishop's ruling is not sustained, and the 1981 action of the Alaska Missionary Conference in electing lay members in excess of the ministerial members was unconstitutional.

Decision

No lay persons may be elected by a Missionary Conference except as stated in Discipline Pars. 36 and 658.5 or to equalize lay and clergy membership. The Bishop's ruling is not sustained.

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