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Decision No. 622

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October 26 1989
In Re: Clarification of Eligibility Requirements for Lay Members of an Annual Conference.

Digest of Case

The Constitution  35 1988 Discipline sets forth the eligibility requirements for the election of a lay member of an Annual Conference. Those requirements cannot be varied by either the General Conference or the Annual Conference. Additional requirements in  251.2 are unconstitutional.

Statement of Facts

A person was elected lay member of the West Virginia Annual Conference who had been a member and active participant in The United Methodist Church for more than four years, but a member of the local church from which he was elected for less than one year Discipline  251.2 states: Both the lay members and the alternates shall have been members in good standing of The United Methodist Church and of the local church from which they are elected for at least two years (see  35), except in a newly organized church, which shall have the privilege of representation at the Annual Conference Session. The West Virginia Annual Conference requests a declaratory decision as to the validity of the limitations in  251.2. JURISDICTION The Judicial Council has jurisdiction under  2615 of the 1988 Discipline. Analysis The Constitution Discipline  35 states: The lay members [of the Annual Conference] shall have been for the two years next preceding their election members of The United Methodist Church and shall have been active participants in The United Methodist Church for at least four years next preceding their election. We hold the provisions of  35 as to the election of lay members are exclusive and controlling. They cannot be added to or subtracted from by the General Conference or the Annual Conference. See Judicial Council Decision No. 495 (concurring opinion). Provisions to the contrary in  251.2 are unconstitutional.

Decision

The provisions of  35 of the Constitution are the exclusive requirements for election as a lay member to Annual Conference. Additional requirements in 251.2 are unconstitutional.

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