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Memorandum No. 994

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October 28 2004
In Re: IN RE: Request from the Virginia Annual Conference for a Declaratory Decision on the Meaning, Application, and Effect of the 2000 Discipline and Specifically ¶ 608 thereof, to “Equipping the Church: An Organizational Plan for the Virginia Conference of The United Methodist Church,” as Adopted.

Digest of Case

The 2004 Session of the Virginia Annual Conference adopted a report entitled “Equipping the Church: An Organizational Plan for the Virginia Conference of the United Methodist Church.” A motion was made “that the Virginia Conference petition the Judicial Council for a declaratory decision under the Book of Discipline 2000, paragraph 2610 on the meaning, application and affect (sic) of the Discipline, and specifically paragraph 608, with respect to the legality of “Equipping the Church: An Organizational Plan for the Virginia Conference of the United Methodist Church.” Keith Boyette recused himself and did not participate in any of the proceedings related to this decision. The Judicial Council has jurisdiction under ¶ 2610 of the 2000 Discipline. Paragraph 608 of the Discipline states “[t]he annual conference is responsible for structuring its ministries and administrative procedures in order to accomplish its purpose (¶ 601). In so doing, it shall provide for the connectional relationship of the local church, district, and conference with the general agencies. It will monitor to ensure inclusiveness – racial, gender, age, and people with disabilities – in the annual conference.” Decision 640 held, an annual conference plan of restructure “may not set aside, modify or ignore the mandatory language” in the Discipline.” Decision 680 states “an Annual Conference may not restructure itself in such a manner that it disregards the mandatory structure established by the General Conference and described specifically in the Discipline.” Decision 831 declares “an Annual Conference cannot restructure in such a way as to constitute an unauthorized delegation of its authority to a committee. All restructuring of an Annual Conference must preserve the connectional relationship of the denomination and recognize the separation of powers of the legislative and executive branches under the Constitution.” The Virginia Conference Organizational Plan is consistent with ¶ 608 of the 2000 Discipline.

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