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Memorandum No. 927

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April 24 2002
In Re: Review of Bishop's Decision of Law in the North Carolina Annual Conference on Whether Funds of Any United Methodist Unit may be Given to any Organization, Institution, Caucus or Group that Promotes the Acceptance of Homosexuality by Allowing any Portion of its Property to be Used to Celebrate Same Sex Unions.

Digest of Case

The decision of law of Bishop Marion M. Edwards that the question is moot and hypothetical is affirmed. The question was improper because it did not relate to business, consideration or discussion of the conference session and no substantive answer was required. C. Rex Bevins was absent. This copy subject to final editing and correcting

Statement of Facts

On June 9, 2001, during the course of the regular session of the North Carolina Annual Conference, Bishop Marion M. Edwards received a request for a decision of law from a retired elder in full connection. The question posed by the elder is as follows: Can any funds of any unit within The United Methodist Church (including funds of an Annual Conference, a United Methodist District within an Annual Conference, or a local United Methodist Church) be given to any organization, institution, caucus, or group when such organization, institution, caucus, or group promotes the acceptance of homosexuality by authorizing any portion of its property or buildings to be used to celebrate "same sex" unions in a service resembling a marriage service or in a quasi service? As allowed by 2609.6 of the 2000 Discipline, the bishop's ruling was issued on July 2, 2001, within thirty days after the close of the session. The bishop ruled that: The question does not reference any action taken by the annual conference or any action proposed by the annual conference. The question is, therefore, moot, hypothetical, and in keeping with Judicial Council Decision 33, should not be decided. The decision of law gives his reasoning behind the decision and states what is labeled pertinent background information. The Judicial Council has jurisdiction in this case under 2609.6 of the 2000 Discipline. The Council has repeatedly held that questions of law must be germane to the regular business, considerations or discussions of the Annual Conference. The question must state the connection to a specific action taken or to be taken or it must be raised during the deliberation of a specific issue or matter upon which the conference takes action. Questions that do not meet these criteria are moot and hypothetical and shall not be decided. Decisions 33, 396, 651, 746, 747,762, 763, 799 and 903. The record does not indicate that the Conference was discussing, considering or conducting any business relating to the issues presented in this question. The question, therefore, was moot and hypothetical and shall not be decided. We would reiterate that once a bishop determines that a question of law is improper because it does not relate to the business, consideration or discussions of the conference session, the bishop shall state the rationale in the ruling without further substantive commentary.

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