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Memorandum No. 887

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May 09 2000
In Re: Request From the General and Judicial Administration Legislative Committee of the 2000 General Conference for a Declaratory Decision on Whether Lay Persons on the Committee on Investigation Have Voting Rights and Parity With Clergy Members Under Pars. 31, 18, and 56 or Any Other Provision of the Constitution.

Digest of Case

Lay persons serving on an Annual Conference Committee on Investigation of a clergy member of an Annual Conference do not have voting rights and parity with clergy members and any petition seeking to give them voting rights and parity with clergy members of the committee is unconstitutional.

Statement of Facts

Petition #30464 proposes to change the wording regarding the composition of the Committee on Investigation to read, "consisting of seven (7) elders in full connection, two lay observers laypersons..." has raised the question of whether the two lay persons would have voting rights and parity with the clergy members under Pars. 31, 18, and 56 or any other provision of the Constitution. Par. 31 of the Constitution reads as follows with the 1996 amendment italicized: ¶ 31. Article II.—The annual conference is the basic body in the Church and as such shall have reserved to it the right to vote on all constitutional amendments, on the election of clergy and lay delegates to the General and the jurisdictional or central conferences, on all matters relating to the character and conference relations of its clergy members, and on the ordination of clergy and such other rights as have not been delegated to the General Conference under the Constitution, with the exception that the lay members may not vote on matters of ordination, character, and conference relations of clergy, except that the lay members of the conference Board of Ordained Ministry may vote on matters of ordination, character, and conference relations of clergy, with the further exception that lay members of the District Committee on Ordained Ministry be full participating members of the District Committee on the Ordained Ministry with vote. It shall discharge such duties and exercise such powers as the General Conference under the Constitution may determine. Amended Par. 31 does not mention the Committee on Investigation and, therefore, does not give vote to lay observers or lay persons on the Committee on Investigation. The second question raised in this request for a declaratory decision is whether Petition #30464 is constitutional. It is the council's decision that it is not constitutional.

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