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Decision No. 418

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October 29 1976
In Re: South Carolina Annual Conference Structure Based on Paragraph 705.1 of the Discipline.

Digest of Case

In view of the adoption of Paragraph 705.1 of the Discipline by the 1976 General Conference, the structure of the South Carolina Annual Conference adopted in 1975 is valid with respect to the optional Boards of Discipleship, Global Ministries, and Higher Education and Ministry to the degree and extent that connectional relationships are maintained and liaison functions have been provided for in other conference agencies.

Statement of Facts

On June 15, 1976, Mr. Harry R. Kent, Secretary of the Committee on Annual Conference Structure of the South Carolina Annual Conference, forwarded to the President of the Judicial Council a letter and enclosed a copy of a resolution adopted by the said Annual Conference during its 1976 session, and a copy of the full structure adopted by the Conference during its 1975 session. In his letter Mr. Kent indicated that the secretary of the Annual Conference would send a formal request for a declaratory decision. He noted that the conference was referring to the Judicial Council only certain sections of the new structure for decision, and asserted that all sections of the new structure would be subject to any changes required by the 1976 Discipline. Under date of June 17, 1976 the formal petition was forwarded along with a copy of the resolution which specifies those sections of the new structure that were held in question, and with a copy of the sections of the structure upon which a decision was requested. The verified copy of the resolution reads as follows: "Whereas, the 1976 General Conference passed Paragraph 705.1 which states: The Annual Conference shall determine the desirability of Conference Boards of Church and Society, Discipleship, Higher Education and Ministry, and Global Ministries with appropriate divisions to have liaison with and responsibility for the functions and concerns of the divisions of all of the respective general boards. 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. and Whereas, the Judicial Council has issued memorandum number 411 for advisory purposes which states in its concluding paragraph: It is certainly the right of the General Conference to designate any board or agency of an Annual Conference as mandatory. Should the General Conference exercise this legislative power 'over all matters distinctively connectional,' and pass legislation making mandatory any of the boards named in Paragraph 705.1, then the permissive option of Paragraph 705.1 would become unconstitutional. and Whereas, the 1976 General Conference in calendar item number 1020 adopted substitute paragraphs 716, 717, 718, and 719, which paragraphs require only that Annual Conferences provide for connectional relationships and do not require that the named boards be established and Whereas, the South Carolina Annual Conference, in session in Spartanburg, South Carolina on June 6, 1975 adopted a report of the Committee on Annual Conference Structure which did not include a Board of Discipleship, a Board of Global Ministries, or a Board of Higher Education and Ministry but did assign the connectional responsibilities to other agencies of the Annual Conference, and Whereas, some members of the Annual Conference have expressed doubt that the structure adopted by the South Carolina Conference is constitutional, Now, therefore, be it resolved that the South Carolina Annual Conference in session in Spartanburg, South Carolina on June 2, 1976 does petition the Judicial Council of the United Methodist Church to set forth a declaratory decision establishing the validity of the structure report adopted by this Annual Conference in the paragraphs which refer to the agencies to which are assigned the functions of the optional program boards, namely, Paragraphs II B (2), 11 B (3) ; II B (4) ; II B (5) ; II B 7; II C (2) ; II C (3); and II C (8), and Be it further resolved that the Committee on Annual Conference Structure be directed to prepare the transmittal of this petition to the Judicial Council with pertinent material related thereto." The sections of the new structure upon which the Judicial Council is asked to pass judgment are all based upon the 1972 Discipline. These eight sections provide for Annual Conference boards and commissions which shall be related to General Boards. A hearing before the Judicial Council was held on October 28, 1976, with the conference being represented by the Reverend Douglas A. Bowling, Mr. Harry R. Kent, and the Reverend D. E. Canaday, Chairman, Secretary and member of the Committee on Annual Conference Structure, respectively. The said representatives reported that to date the structure approved in 1975 had not been challenged. JURISDICTION The Judicial Council has jurisdiction under Paragraph 2515.2 of the 1976 Discipline. ANALYSIS The Discipline gives to the Annual Conference, as the basic body of the church, certain rights. Among the powers granted is the right that: "The Annual Conference for its own government may adopt rules and regulations not in conflict with the Discipline of the United Methodist Church; provided that in exercise of its powers each Annual Conference shall act in all respects in harmony with the policy of the United Methodist Church with respect to elimination of discrimination on the basis of race." (Paragraph 702). Paragraph 705.1 states: "The Annual Conference shall determine the desirability of conference Boards of Church and Society, Discipleship, Higher Education and Ministry, and Global Ministries with appropriate divisions to have liaison with and responsibility for the functions and concerns of the divisions of all of the respective general boards. 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." Paragraph 705.2 gives to an Annual Conference the authority to appoint committees in addition to those mandated by the General Conference: "The Annual Conference may appoint additional committees for the purpose of promoting the work of The United Methodist Church within the bounds of the said Annual Conference and may prescribe their membership and their powers and duties." Paragraph 705.3 provides: "In the appointment or election of Annual Conference Boards, commissions, and committees the provisions of the Discipline concerning membership requirements shall be held to be the minimum requirements, except as provided in (sub-paragraph) 1 above. Each Annual Conference may make its agencies of such size as its work may require; provided that consideration shall be given to the inclusion of lay and clergy persons from small membership churches. Full-time local pastors serving charges are eligible for election or appointment to such agencies, except those dealing with qualifications, orders, and status of ministers and local pastors." Paragraph 705.4 reads: "Insofar as possible, the membership on councils, boards, and agencies of the Annual Conference shall include one-third clergy, one-third laywomen, and one-third laymen in keeping with policies for general church agencies, except for the Board of Ordained Ministry." From the organizational materials the Judicial Council has received and the statements made in the open hearing, it appears that the South Carolina Annual Conference is properly exercising its powers to organize itself to promote the work of the United Methodist Church within the bounds of the conference.

Decision

In view of the adoption of Paragraph 705.1 of the Discipline by the 1976 General Conference, the structure of the South Carolina Annual Conference adopted in 1975 is valid with respect to the optional Boards of Discipleship, Global Ministries, and Higher Education and Ministry to the extent and degree that connectional relationships are maintained and liaison functions have been provided for in other conference agencies. (See also Decision No. 417).

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