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Memorandum No. 795
October 24 1996
In Re: Review of Bishop's Decision of Law in the New York Annual Conference on the Transfer of Two Churches to the Wyoming Annual Conference.
Digest of Case
The decision of Bishop James K. Mathews at the New York Annual Conference that the transfer of churches to the Wyoming Annual Conference cannot be made effective without the approval of the Northeast Jurisdictional Conference is affirmed.
Statement of Facts
This matter is before the Judicial Council on the basis of Bishop James K. Mathews' ruling in June of 1996 of the New York Annual Conference. There were two resolutions which accompanied the ruling that provide for the following, in summary: (1) to transfer the Deposit United Methodist Church (Broome County, New York) from the New York Annual Conference to the neighboring Wyoming Conference; and (2) similarly to transfer the Emory United Methodist Church, Hancock, New York, from the New York Annual Conference to the Wyoming Annual Conference. The matter is before the Judicial Council under ¶ 2613 of the 1992 Discipline. The actual questions are: In paragraph # 44 of the Discipline, how do we interpret the words "in which it [the church transferring] is geographically located?" If churches on the borders of another annual conference can be considered "geographically located" in a neighboring conference, are all churches on a conference boundary permitted to negotiate their conference membership? Was not this paragraph of the Discipline included to care for the integration of Central Jurisdiction churches into geographical annual conferences prior to 1968? Is not the proper procedure to refer requests for boundary changes to the Jurisdictional Conference (Paragraph 43)? The bishop ruled "...that since the defining of Annual Conferences falls within the authority of Jurisdictional Conferences, the proposed transfer cannot be made effective without the approval of the Northeast Jurisdictional Conference" and cited Judicial Council Decision 28 and Decisions 1 and 2 of the Interim Judicial Council. The bishop further ruled that churches on conference boundaries may not negotiate their conference membership. This is consistent with the ruling on question #1. In light of the bishop's ruling question #3 is moot. We affirm the decision of the bishop.