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Decision No. 549

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October 25 1984
In Re: The Constitutionality of Discipline Pars. 636.1 and 638.11 Regarding the Authority to Determine Annual Conference Borders Within a Central Conference.

Digest of Case

Discipline Pars. 636.1 and 638.11 are constitutional.

Statement of Facts

On May 5, 1984, Vileu Schneeberger of Czechoslovakia presented to the General Conference a request from the Commission on Central Conference affairs concerning the Central Conferences and Annual Conferences therein (Par. 2301) to clarify the manner by which borders of Annual Conferences are determined, and who grants such authorization. The General Conference passed a motion requesting a declaratory decision as follows: Are the restrictions in Par. 636.1 where it says that the General Conference shall determine those borders, and 638.11 where again the General Conference determines the borders are they in conflict with the Constitution, whether jurisdictional or Central Conferences are authorized to decide about their borders? (DCA, Page 289) JURISDICTION The Judicial Council has jurisdiction under Par. 2609 of the 1984 Discipline. ANALYSIS The issue is whether Pars. 636.1 and 638.11 are in violation of the constitution. Par. 45, 1980 Discipline; Par. 43, 1984 Discipline.) Par. 636.1 reads: In territory outside the United States, Annual Conferences, Provisional Annual Conferences, Missionary Conferences, Mission Conferences, and Missions in such numbers as the General Conference by a two-thirds vote shall determine may be organized by the General Conference into Central Conferences or Provisional Central Conferences, with such duties, privileges, and powers as are hereinafter set forth and as the General Conference by a two-thirds vote shall prescribe. Par. 638.11 reads: A Central Conference shall fix the boundaries of the Annual Conferences, Provisional Annual Conferences, Missionary Conferences, and Missions within its bounds, proposals for changes first having been submitted to the Annual Conferences concerned as prescribed in the Discipline of The United Methodist Church; provided, however, that the number of Annual Conferences which may be organized within the bounds of a Central Conference shall first have been determined by the General Conference. No Annual Conference shall be organized with fewer than thirty-five ministerial members except as provided by an enabling act for the quadrennium, which shall not reduce the number below twenty-five. Nor shall an Annual Conference be continued with fewer than twenty-five ministerial members except as provided by an enabling act for the quadrennium. Par. 45 of the Constitution reads: Changes in the number, names, and boundaries of the Annual Conferences may be effected by the Jurisdictional Conferences in the United States of America and by the Central Conferences outside the United States of America according to the provisions under the respective powers of the Jurisdictional and the Central Conferences. A careful reading of Par. 636.1 reveals no reference to the fixing of borders or boundaries. Par. 638.11 does not give the General Conference authority with reference to the fixing of boundaries.

Decision

Discipline Pars. 636.1 and 638.11 are constitutional.

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