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Decision No. 740

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April 27 1995
In Re: Review of Bishop's Decision of Law in the Minnesota Conference Concerning Adoption by the Annual Conference of Procedures for Dealing With Grievances or Complaints.

Digest of Case

The bishop is affirmed to the extent that she answered the question of law as to the supervisory responsibilities given the Cabinet, the bishop and the district superintendents. Any procedures adopted in any policy of the Annual Conference must conform with the Constitution, Discipline, and Judicial Decisions, including but not limited to Decision No. 736.

Statement of Facts

At the 1994 session of the Minnesota Annual Conference, a document entitled "A Supplement to the Grievance Procedure Set Forth in Par. 454 of the Book of Discipline for the Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church" was submitted for adoption by the body. The presiding bishop ruled the document's adoption out of order and received a written request for a decision of law which asked: Does the Book of Discipline prohibit the Annual Conference from adopting procedures to be used by the Cabinet, the Board of Ordained Ministry and the Joint Review Committee in dealing with grievances and complaints? The bishop responded by affirming her initial decision stating that the supplement submitted called for the Annual Conference to establish a process clearly given by the General Conference in Par. 520.2 to the Cabinet to establish as a part of its supervisory responsibilities and because Pars. 15, 56, and 57 clearly determine that the bishop and the district superintendents are given responsibilities and authorities by the General Conference rather than the Annual Conference. I ruled the motion out of order. JURISDICTION The Judicial Council has jurisdiction under Par. 2613 of the 1992 Discipline . ANALYSIS Initially, it must be noted that by the question of law posed, the questioners appear to assume that the document presented entitled "A Supplement of the Grievance Procedures Set Forth in Par. 454 of the Book of Discipline for the Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church" (hereinafter Supplement) involved only procedures to be used by the Cabinet, the Board of Ordained Ministry and the Joint Review Committee, and they appear to believe that the Supplement as presented for adoption deals with only the grievance procedure of Par. 454. In point of fact, parts of the Supplement do not deal with procedures involving the Cabinet, the Board of Ordained Ministry and the Joint Review Committee, and many other sections simply rephrase or summarize the Disciplinary sections. However, the Bishop was not challenged as to her refusal to allow a vote on these provisions. Notwithstanding the fact that the question of law specifically listed three groups-the Cabinet, the Board of Ordained Ministry and the Joint Review Committee-the bishop responded as to the authority of the Cabinet, the bishop and the district superintendents. In fact the bishop specifically noted in her ruling "The written request for the decision of law exceeds the boundaries of my ruling on the motion that was before me. My ruling did not pertain to the Board of Ordained Ministry or the Joint Review Committee. Therefore, I consider it inappropriate for me to make comment on anything other than the decision of law that I made in response to the motion before the Annual Conference." The problem with the bishop's analysis is that the document which the bishop ruled out of order contains not only supplemental procedures for all the bodies and offices mentioned in the question of law, but also contains procedures which do not infringe on any authority given to the Cabinet, the bishop, or the district superintendents, nor which conflict with the Discipline. Decisions rendered on confused facts and assumptions are of no value, and the ruling on any appeal of such decisions must be careful not to further confuse the issues. Therefore, the bishop is affirmed in her ruling only to the extent that she answered the question of law asked. The portions of the question left unanswered by the bishop are best answered by reference to Judicial Council Decision 736 for guidance.

Decision

The bishop is affirmed to the extent that she answered the question of law as to the supervisory responsibilities given the Cabinet, the bishop and district superintendents. Any procedures adopted in any policy of the Annual Conference must conform with the Constitution, Discipline, and Judicial Council Decisions, including but not limited to Decision 736.

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