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ICJ No. 8

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May 02 1968
In Re: Request of the Uniting Conference that the Interim Judicial Council of the United Methodist Church be requested to rule on the constitutionality of the authority of the Commission on Religion and Race with respect to the "Merging of Annual Conferences."

Digest of Case

The action of the Uniting Conference in establishing the Commission on Religion and Race has given it responsibility for promoting and encouraging the merger of Annual Conferences but has no authority superceding that already established in our Constitution for effecting such mergers. JURISDICTION Jurisdiction is based on the creation of the Interim Judicial Council and the grant of authority given to it by the Uniting Conference (D.C.A. 190-192) and upon the request to the Council by the Uniting Conference for an opinion on duties relating to the Commission on Religion and Race.

Statement of Facts

In a session of the Uniting Conference the following action was taken: "BE IT RESOLVED by the Uniting Conference of The United Methodist Church that, in accordance with the provisions of Paragraph 1 of Article II, Division IV, of the Constitution of The United Methodist Church, the Interim Judicial Council of The United Methodist Church, be and it is hereby requested to rule on the constitutionality of that part of said Resolution by which the commission is given authority to assume general church responsibility for the merging of Annual Conferences." ANALYSIS The Uniting Conference has referred to the Interim Judicial Council the question of the authority granted to the Commission on Religion and Race. The action establishing such a commission states that: "The commission will assume general church responsibility for such matters as: 2. Merging of Annual Conferences." The Interim Judicial Council does not see that any new question is involved in this request. The action of the Uniting Conference in establishing a Commission on Religion and Race does not change the provisions of the Constitution which affect mergers of Annual Conferences. In our view the function of the Commission is to be suggestive and promotional. It may not in any way intrude upon the requirements of the Constitution of the church.

Decision

The action of the Uniting Conference establishing the Commission on Religion and Race and stating as one of its responsibilities the "merging of Annual Conferences" is constitutional, it being understood that such a responsibility is advisory and promotional in nature and does not convey any power or authority otherwise defined and established by the Constitution for effecting the merger of Annual Conferences. MURRAY H. LEIFFER Vice President, Interim Judicial Council Secretary, Interim Judicial Council (Paul R. Ervin, Leon E. Hickman and Samuel W. Witwer were absent.)

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