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Decision No. 464

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October 26 1979
In Re: Whether a Diaconal Minister (Par. 303-311,Discipline) may Serve as a Lay Member of an Annual Conference According to Par. 307.

Digest of Case

A diaconal minister may become a member of the Annual conference as a lay person when elected as a lay member of the Annual Conference in accordance with Par. 307.2 of the Discipline.

Statement of Facts

According to a letter, dated July 6, 1979, from Secretary of the North Arkansas Annual Conference to the Secretary of the Judicial Council, the Conference on May 25, 1979 adopted a resolution that: The North Arkansas Conference hereby requests a declaratory decision from the Judicial Council to determine if a Diaconal Minister can according to the Discipline serve as a lay member to the Annual Conference. Additionally, a letter dated September 18, 1979, raising issues involved in the request, was received by the Secretary of the Judicial Council from the Reverend D. Max Whitfield, a pastor in the Conference. JURISDICTION The Judicial Council has jurisdiction under Par. 2515 of the 1976 Discipline . ANALYSIS The Discipline in Par. 303 provides: A diaconal minister is a person whose decision to make a professional career in the employed status of The United Methodist Church or its related agencies is accompanied by the meeting of standards for the office of diaconal minister, who has been certified or commissioned in the chosen field of service, and who has been consecrated by a bishop. Par. 307.2 states: The diaconal minister may become a member of the Annual Conference as a lay person when elected as a lay member of the Annual Conference, or as a part of the Annual Conference lay equalization plan in accordance with Par. 36.1. Par. 307.2 was enacted by the 1976 General Conference to eliminate the problem referred to in our Decision No. 391 wherein this Council ruled that lay workers cannot be granted, as a class, the right to vote in the Annual Conference. Under the provisions for the Diaconal Ministry in Chapter 3 of the 1976 Discipline, it is clear that is was the intention of the General Conference that a diaconal minister may become a member of the Annual Conference as a lay person when elected as a lay member of the Annual Conference. Under the Constitution the General Conference had the authority to grant this right to diaconal ministers.

Decision

A diaconal minister may become a member of the Annual Conference as a lay person when elected as a lay member of the Annual Conference.

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