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ICJ No. 2

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April 26 1968
In Re: The request of the Uniting Conference for a Declaratory Decision on the right of a Jurisdictional Conference to act upon a merger of Annual Conferences, deferring the effective date until a favorable vote is obtained in the Annual Conferences directly involved.

Digest of Case

A Jurisdictional Conference of The United Methodist Church has the duty and the authority under the Constitution to determine the boundaries of its Annual Conferences and the authority to determine their number and names. It may give its approval on proposed changes in number, names, and boundaries in advance of the completion of merger negotiations between any of its Annual Conferences. The mergers would then become effective upon agreement on the part of the Annual Conferences directly involved.

Statement of Facts

The Uniting Conference has requested of the Interim Judicial Council a Declaratory Decision as to whether Paragraph 9 (B) and (C) of the Enabling Legislation of the Plan of Union grants to Annual Conferences with overlapping boundaries the authority to merge without the approval of the Jurisdictional Conference. In the event that the decision of the Interim Judicial Council should determine that the action of the Jurisdictional Conference is necessary, the Uniting Conference requested a ruling on a secondary question, the right of a Jurisdictional Conference to act upon a merger of Annual Conferences deferring the effective date until a favorable vote is obtained in the Annual Conferences directly involved. The Interim Judicial Council in its Decision No. 1 has ruled that the action of the Jurisdictional Conference, approving any changes in number, names, and boundaries, is required before any mergers can be effected which involve any Annual Conference or Annual Conferences under its jurisdiction. Therefore, the secondary question is now before us. JURISDICTION Jurisdiction is based upon the creation of an Interim Judicial Council and the grant of authority to it by the Uniting Conference (D.C.A. 190-192) and the request to the Council by the Uniting Conference for an advisory opinion on the matter herein discussed (D.C.A. 193-210) ANALYSIS Paragraph 26.4 of the Constitution of The United Methodist Church states that one of the powers and duties of Jurisdictional Conferences is "to determine the boundaries of their Annual Conferences . . .". Paragraph 45 of the Constitution states that "changes in the number, names, and boundaries of the Annual Conferences may be effected by the Jurisdictional Conferences in the United States of America and Canada and by the Central Conferences outside the United States of America and Canada according to the provisions under the respective powers of the Jurisdictional and Central Conferences." The Jurisdictional Conference has the duty and authority under the Constitution to determine the boundaries of its Annual Conferences and the authority to determine their number and names. The Judicial Council of the former The Methodist Church ruled in Decisions No. 28 and 217 that the Jurisdictional Conference could not delegate such authority to its Annual Conferences. This duty and authority, however, is restricted to changes in "number, names, and boundaries" and does not require the Jurisdictional Conference to approve all other aspects of mergers involving any of its Annual Conferences. There is no reason why a Jurisdictional Conference cannot take action authorizing or approving proposed changes in number, names, and boundaries either in advance of, or subsequent to, the completion of merger agreements involving any of the Annual Conferences under its jurisdiction.

Decision

It is the decision of the Interim Judicial Council that a Jurisdictional Conference may carry out the powers and duties reserved to it in the Constitution by approving in advance of merger negotiations between any of its Annual Conferences, the matters involved in such mergers which concern number, names, and boundaries of Annual Conferences. PAUL R. ERVIN President, Interim Judicial Council J. RUSSELL THROCKMORTON Secretary, Interim Judicial Council

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