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Decision No. 990

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October 28 2004
In Re: IN RE: Request from the 2004 General Conference for a Declaratory Decision on the Meaning, Application, and Effect of the Provisions of ¶ 705.3(j) of the Discipline with Respect to the Membership of the Connectional Table.

Digest of Case

The 2004 General Conference created the Connectional Table as a new and different entity and not as a new general agency. In so doing, the provisions of ¶ 705.3(j) of the 2000 Discipline do not apply. However, the provisions for membership must be consistent with ¶ 4 of the Constitution.

Statement of Facts

On the afternoon of May 6, 2004(p. 2218 of the 2004 Daily Christian Advocate, the General Conference requested a declaratory decision of the Judicial Council relating to the Connectional Table legislation which had been adopted on the previous evening. The question was: “Do the provisions of ¶ 705(3)(j) [sic] of the Discipline, with regard to the recommended membership of general agencies, apply to the Connectional Table?” Oral hearings were held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on October 28, 2004. Speaking on behalf of the proponents of the legislation were K. Edward Tomlinson, chair of the General Administration Legislative Committee of the 2004 General Conference, and Deborah A. McLeod, chair of the Structure Subcommittee of the General Administration Subcommittee. Jurisdiction The Judicial Council has jurisdiction under ¶ 2610 of the 2000 Discipline. Analysis and Rationale The 2004 General Conference, in Calendar Item 1498, adopted provisions establishing a Connectional Table. The provisions for membership were outlined in the approved legislation. The legislation establishes the Connectional Table as an entity other than a “general agency.” During the debate, an amendment to designate the Connectional Table as a “general agency” was intentionally rejected by a vote of 761 to 128. 2004 Daily Christian Advocate, p. 2145. Reporting to the General Conference and responding to motions identifying the Connectional Table as a general agency, the sub-committee chairperson stated: “t was our desire not to create another general agency. We do not see the Connectional Table as being one agency among many agencies, and we do not see it as being some giant ‘super’ agency that encompasses all agencies. We see it as creating a place for collaboration, cooperation, mission, and decision-making. It’s a very different entity than an agency.” 2004 Daily Christian Advocate, p. 2144. It is clear that the General Conference voted not to establish another general agency, but rather to establish a new structure. In so doing, the provisions of ¶ 705.3 (j) do not apply. However, it is also clear that the provisions for membership must be consistent with ¶ 15.14 of the Constitution.

Decision

The 2004 General Conference created the Connectional Table as a new and different entity, and not as a new general agency. In so doing, the provisions of ¶705.3(j) do not apply. However, the provisions for membership must be consistent with ¶ 4 of the Constitution.

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