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Decision No. 916

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October 25 2001
In Re: Limited Reconsideration of Decision 909 for Clarification of Whether All Annual Conference Restructure Plans Must Be Postponed Until After the 2004 General Conference Adopts Enabling Legislation for ¶ 15.15 of the Constitution.

Digest of Case

The lack of specific enabling legislation for Par. 15.15 does not preclude annual conference restructure under ¶ 608 or other disciplinary paragraphs allowing such as long as other mandated disciplinary paragraphs are complied with and all mandated connections are maintained by the resulting structure.

Statement of Facts

Northern Illinois Annual Conference requested that the Judicial Council grant limited reconsideration of Decision 909 to clarify whether a sentence in that decision prohibits all annual conference restructures until after the 2004 General Conference adopts specific legislation enabling restructure under ¶ 15.15 of the Constitution. The request for reconsideration was made in a timely and correct manner. The request for reconsideration was granted by the Judicial Council by a mail ballot authorized by its Rules of Practice and Procedure. Jurisdiction The Judicial Council has jurisdiction under Rule VII of the Rules of Practice and Procedure of the Judicial Council. Analysis and Rationale An amendment to ¶ 15.15 of the Constitution was adopted by the 1996 General Conference and referred to the annual conferences for ratification. The Council of Bishops announced in November of 1997 that the amendment had been ratified. However, prior to the announcement of ratification, a number of annual conferences began the process of restructuring in anticipation of such ratification. None of the restructure models submitted to the Judicial Council for review since 1996 purported to use any disciplinary paragraph other than ¶ 15.15 as a basis for restructure nor did any plan provide for all the necessary connections required by other disciplinary paragraphs. In Decision 835 the Council set forth some guidelines for annual conferences to follow in any restructure plans. Those guidelines state unequivocally that annual conferences must follow the Discipline in providing for the mandated connections. (See also Decisions 314, 339, 411, 417, 640, 680, 815, 827,831, 878, 893 and 900.) Prior to the 1996 General Conference action on ¶ 15.15 there existed opportunity for annual conferences to restructure in order to meet the needs of their particular situation. Par. 608 of the 2000 Discipline, ¶ 607 of the 1996 Discipline, ¶ 707 of the 1992 Discipline, and ¶ 706 of the 1988 Discipline all grant authority for annual conferences to structure themselves to meet the needs of their areas. While it would be helpful for the 2004 General Conference to approve legislation that further defines what it means “to allow annual conferences to utilize structures unique to their mission....” (¶ 15.15 as amended), annual conferences do not have to wait until the General Conference passes additional enabling legislation. An annual conference may restructure itself under ¶ 608 as long as other mandated disciplinary paragraphs are complied with and all mandated connections are maintained by the resulting structure. The Guidelines for Restructure as delineated in Decision 835 are commended to all annual conferences considering restructure under the 2000 Discipline.

Decision

The lack of specific enabling legislation for Par. 15.15 does not preclude annual conference restructure under ¶ 608 or other disciplinary paragraphs allowing such as long as other mandated disciplinary paragraphs are complied with and all mandated connections are maintained by the resulting structure.

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