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Decision No. 417

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October 30 1976
In Re: Request of General Conference for a Declaratory Decision as to the Constitutionality of Calendar Item No. 251, Paragraph 705.1.

Digest of Case

Paragraph 705.1 of the 1976 Discipline is constitutional and the Annual Conferences have the option either to establish Conference Boards of Church and Society, Discipleship, Higher Education and Ministry, and Global Ministry, with appropriate divisions, or to specifically assign the liaison functions and responsibilities of each such board or division to another agency in the conference.

Statement of Facts

During deliberations on May 5, 1976, the General Conference referred to the Judicial Council Calendar Item No. 251, Paragraph 705.1, as corrected (D.C.A., page 382; pages 555f.), which it had adopted, for a declaratory decision with respect to its constitutionality. On the same date the Judicial Council issued Memorandum No. 411, as printed in the D.C.A. for May 6, 1976, pages 666 f., and in Decisions Of The Judicial Council Of The United Methodist Church: Numbers408-413, 1976. In this Memorandum the Judicial Council stated in part: "In the specific question before us the Judicial Council is of the opinion that Paragraph 705.1 as written in Calendar Item 251 is constitutional as it stands alone without reference to other legislation proposed concerning the conference boards referred to in Paragraph 705.1. * * * "The Judicial Council retains jurisdiction over this petition." JURISDICTION The Judicial Council has jurisdiction under Paragraph 2515 of the 1976 Discipline. ANALYSIS In stating its opinion in Memorandum No. 411 that Paragraph 705.1 as it stands alone without reference to other proposed legislation is constitutional, the Judicial Council held that the paragraph had passed two crucial constitutional, legislative, and judicial tests. The first test is that of "consistency and harmony with the Constitution, Paragraph 15, Article IV," with particular reference to its opening statement and sections 3 and 8: "The General Conference shall have full legislative power over all matters distinctively connectional, and in the exercise of this power shall have authority as follows: * * * "3. To define and fix the powers and duties of Annual Conferences, Provisional Annual Conferences, Missionary Conferences, Charge Conferences, and Congregational Meetings. * * * "8. To initiate and to direct all connectional enterprises of the Church and to provide boards for their promotion and administration." The second test is that of "permissible delegation of powers by the General Conference to the Annual Conference." The Memorandum asserts that the General Conference has the authority to grant a reasonable amount of flexibility in Annual Conference structures, and Judicial Council Decision No. 364 permits the delegation of promotional and administrative powers. According to Decision No. 364, "It is only where the delegation of authority by the General Conference goes beyond promotion and administration and includes delegation of legislative functions that constitutionality is called into question." Turning to the "proposed" legislation which now stands in the 1976 Discipline as Paragraphs 727, 728, 729, and 730, the following characteristics are to be noted in each instance: 1) provision for connectional relationship between the general board and the conference, district, and local counterparts; 2) provision for general board functions related to the objectives and scope of work of the general boards; 3) mandate of connectional relationships and functions, but agency made optional. The paragraphs read, in part: Paragraph 727.1. "The Annual Conference shall provide for the connectional relationship between the General Board of Church and Society and the conference, district, and local church, and shall provide for Church and Society functions related to the objectives and scope of the General Board of Church and Society, as set forth in Paragraph 1202." * * * Paragraph 728. Conference Board of Discipleship. "The Annual Conference shall provide for the connectional relationship between the General Board of Discipleship and the conference, district, and local church, and shall provide for discipleship functions related to the objectives and scope of work of the General Board of Discipleship, as set forth in Paragraphs 1301 ff. * * * Paragraph 729.1. "The Annual Conference shall provide for the connectional relationship between the General Board of Global Ministries and the conference, district, and local church, and shall provide for global ministry functions related to the objectives and scope of work of the General Board of Global Ministries as set forth in Paragraph 1502." * * * Paragraph 730.1. "The Annual Conference shall provide for the connectional relationship between the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry and the conference, district, and local church and shall provide for higher education and ministry functions related to the objectives and scope of work of the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry as set forth in Paragraph 1603." The paragraphs make the said conference boards optional. On the other hand, they make provisions for mandatory connectional relationships and functions which are to be carried out by other conference agencies. Thus they are in agreement with Memorandum No. 411 which states, . . ."If a conference should determine not to create any one of the boards or divisions thereof, it shall specifically assign the liaison functions and responsibilities of each such board or division to another agency in the conference." Moreover, they meet the requirements of Judicial Council Decisions 314, 339, 364, and 409; and are in harmony with Paragraph 705.1. Paragraph 705.1 thus remains constitutional in relation to itself alone, and in relation to legislation that on May 5, 1976 was proposed and now appears as Paragraphs 727, 728, 729, and 730 in the 1976 Discipline.

Decision

Paragraph 705.1 is constitutional in relation to the legislation enacted with respect to the four Annual Conference boards which are optional. Dissenting Opinion I respectfully dissent from the opinion of the majority for the following reasons. Paragraph 705.1, as I see it, gives to the annual conferences participation in the legislative function of General Conference, which by the Constitution is reserved for the General Conference. Paragraph 15. Article IV states: "The General Conference shall have full legislative power over all matters distinctively connectional, and in the exercise of this power shall have authority as follows: (emphasis added) * * * 3.To define and fix the powers and duties of annual conferences . . ." The determination by each annual conference of the desirability of one or more, or none of the four boards named in Paragraph 705.1, and the freedoms of placing the "liaison functions" in one or more, unnamed annual conference agencies, but not a board, permits the annual conference to participate in and determine the legislation of General Conference. The delegation of this legislative function to each annual conference is, in my opinion, a violation of legislative powers reserved to the General Conference. Further, I dissent from the opinion of the majority for I believe the connectional enterprises and structures of the United Methodist Church are violated by the permissive determination of Paragraph 705.1 of the Discipline. In Paragraph 705.1 each annual conference is given determination over connectional boards. This option is not only in violation of the Constitution of the United Methodist Church, but is also an impermissible transfer to each annual conference of the authority of the General Conference "to initiate and direct all connectional enterprises of the Church and to provide boards for their promotion and administration." Paragraph 15, Article IV, of the Discipline reads: "The General Conference shall have full legislative power over all matters distinctively connectional, and in the exercise of this power shall have authority as follows: * * * 8. To initiate and to direct all connectional enterprises of the church and to provide boards for their promotion and administration." (emphasis added) The United Methodist Church is a connectional church maintained through its chain of conferences. Boards are legislated by the General Conference to promote and administer the connectional enterprises of the church. Giving to each annual conference determination over conference boards and connectional enterprises, as to in what annual conference agency the "liaison functions" and "connectional relationships" are to be placed, if a board is not elected, not only results in unclear guidelines for linkage, but makes for proliferation of annual conference structure, over connectional enterprises. It is my opinion that the permissive determination given to each annual conference over the four boards named in Paragraph 705.1 is an impermissible transfer of the authority of the General Conference to direct all connectional enterprises and the providing of boards for their promotion and administration. I concur in the majority opinion that Paragraphs 727, 728, 729, and 730 make mandatory that each annual conference provide for "connectional relationships" and liaison functions" when one or more of the boards of Paragraph 705.1 are elected to be given to another conference agency. November 2, 1976 TRUMAN W. POTTER

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