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Decision No. 640

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October 24 1990
In Re: Request From the East Ohio Annual Conference for a Declaratory Judgmentas to Whether an Annual Conference in Structuring Itself in Accordance with 703.1 and 706.1 May Set Aside or Modify or Ignore the Mandatory Language Contained in 707, 715, 722, 726, 728, 729, 730, 731, 732, 733, 734, 735, 737, 738, 739, 740, 741, 742, 743, and 2512 of the 1988 Discipline

Digest of Case

While an Annual Conference "shall structure itself for effective mission in any mode deemed appropriate,"  706.1 of the 1988 Discipline, it may not ignore the mandatory provisions of the 1988 Discipline related to structure in  707, 715, 722, 726, 728, 729, 730, 731, 732, 733, 734, 735, 737, 738, 739, 740, 741, 742, 743, and 2512. The issue was completely covered in our Decision 314 where we stated: The central question is whether an Annual Conference may, at its own option, disregard a specific instruction adopted by the General Conference and made applicable to every Annual Conference. For example, Paragraph 1146 states: "Each Annual Conference shall elect ... a conference Board of Evangelism. . ." To cover the prescribed functions but not provide for the prescribed agency is not to meet the requirement of the law. If the Discipline uses permissive language, as in Paragraph 1391.1, "Each Annual Conference may create a Conference Commission on Ecumenical Affairs," the establishment of the structure is left to the discretion of the conference. (Emphasis supplied.) If the organizations and assignment of functions in Annual Conference agencies are unsatisfactory to members of a conference they may, or course, seek to effect desired changes through General Conference action. The foregoing conclusions necessarily follow from the nature of The United Methodist Church as a connectional institution. See Paragraphs 665.1 and 665.2 of the Discipline. The East Ohio Annual Conference in any restructuring may not set aside, modify or ignore the mandatory language in  707, 715, 722, 726, 728, 729, 730, 731, 732, 733, 734, 735, 737, 738, 739; 740, 741, 742, 743, and 2512. See also Decision Nos. 411, 417 and 418.

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