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Decision No. 894

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October 26 2000
In Re: Review of Bishop's Decision of Law in Northern Illinois Annual Conference on Whether Establishment of an Implementation Task Force for the "New Model" of Conference Structure Is in Conformity with the 1996 Discipline.

Digest of Case

The decision of law of Bishop C. Joseph Sprague is affirmed. The "New Model" Implementation Task Force has not completed its work. Therefore to determine its conformity with the 1996 Discipline is premature. However, the specific request for the decision of law was to determine if it was in conformity with the Discipline for the Northern Illinois Annual Conference to establish a "New Model" Implementation Task Force. The Judicial Council reaffirms the Annual Conference's prerogative to establish such committees, teams, task forces as may be required to conduct its business.

Statement of Facts

On June 3, 2000, the Northern Illinois Annual Conference approved a motion for "the establishment of a twenty-eight member Implementation Team, appointed by the bishop, to provide for consideration by the November 2000 special session, a nominating process; the necessary Standing Rules; and budgetary proposals; and all other items necessary, in order that the New Model may be implemented by January 1, 2001." This motion was designed to provide for the implementation of the "New Model" organizational plan for the Annual Conference. Following its adoption, a decision of law was requested from the bishop pursuant to ¶ 2613 of the 1996 Discipline. The requested decision is stated in the Annual Conference minutes as follows: "Is the motion passed on June 3, 2000, by the Northern Illinois Annual Conference establishing an Implementation Task Force for the 'New Model' in conformity with the Discipline?" The bishop ruled as follows: "As regards the second issue, the Implementation Task force is empowered to perfect the plan and create the structures that will fulfill the 'New Model' design for final approval by the Annual Conference in November 18, 2000; I rule that whether their work is in conformity with the Discipline is not yet capable of judicial decision and premature." Larry Pickens recused himself and did not participate in any of the proceedings related to this decision. Jurisdiction The Judicial Council has jurisdiction under ¶ 2613 of the 1996 Discipline. Analysis and Rationale The Judicial Council reviewed the question of law put before the bishop of the Northern Illinois Annual Conference. The precise decision of law concerns the question of whether the motion approved on June 3, 2000 by the conference was in conformity with the 1996 Discipline. The bishop's decision, on the other hand, deals with the work of the Implementation Team, not the legality of the motion that established it. The bishop ruled that a decision on the work of the Implementation Team was premature and not capable of a decision at this time. In so far as the issue of the "work" of the Implementation Team is concerned, the bishop's decision of law is affirmed. However, the bishop did not answer the specific question posed to him in the request for a decision of law. The motion to establish the Implementation Team is in conformity with the Discipline in that the Annual Conference is empowered to establish such committees, teams, task forces as are required to conduct the business of the Annual Conference. The requested decision of law did not address the work of the Implementation Team, but only the legality of the motion that established it. Therefore, the decision of law of the bishop is affirmed. This affirmation is based on the prerogative of an annual conference to establish specific committees, teams, and task forces to carry out its work.

Decision

The decision of law of Bishop C. Joseph Sprague is affirmed. The "New Model" Implementation Task Force has not completed its work. Therefore to determine its conformity with the 1996 Discipline is premature. However, the specific request for the decision of law was to determine if it was in conformity with the Discipline for the Northern Illinois Annual Conference to establish a "New Model" Implementation Task Force. The Judicial Council reaffirms the Annual Conference's prerogative to establish such committees, teams, task forces as may be required to conduct its business.

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