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Memorandum No. 1002

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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 ¶102 of the Discipline to Calendar Item 1514, as Adopted, with Respect to the Doctrinal Standards of The United Methodist Church.

Decision

During its May 6, 2004, session, the General Conference requested a declaratory decision concerning "whether petition 40706 violates ¶ 102, especially the final paragraph on page 58 of the Book of Discipline . . . [and] on whether the petition expanded the range of our doctrinal standards beyond the intention and limits of ¶ 102." The Faith and Order Legislative Committee considered petition 40706. Majority and minority reports were submitted to the General Conference. After lengthy floor debate and numerous amendments, the minority report was adopted as Calendar Item 1514. The amended petition adopted states the following:

Whereas The United Methodist Church has long been guided by the teaching of the scripture, The United Methodist Articles of Religion, the historical creeds of the church, the theological heritage of the Wesleyan tradition, and whereas the Constitution of the United Methodist Church, in its restrictive rules, see paragraph 16-20, protects both the Articles of Religion and the Confession of Faith as doctrinal standards that shall not be revoked, altered, or changed: Book of Discipline, pgs. 55-58, and Whereas, the clergy covenant, agreed to by all clergy entering the denomination, includes the following question: In covenant with other elders, will you be loyal to The United Methodist Church, accepting its order, liturgy, doctrine and discipline, defending it against all doctrines contrary to God's holy word, and accepting the authority of those who are appointed to supervise your ministry: United Methodist Book of Worship, p. 676, etc. there. (sic) Whereas, we affirm that abiding by our rules and upholding the doctrines of Christianity is critical to the peace and unity, both within The United Methodist church and globally. Therefore, be it resolved, that the 2004 General Conference affirms its commitment to the basic doctrines of the Christian faith as taught in Scripture and in The United Methodist Articles of Religion and in the sermons of John Wesley. The Judicial Council has jurisdiction under ¶ 2610 of the 2000 Discipline.
Unlike Restrictive Rules I, II, and V and the Plan of Union of The United Methodist Church, ¶102 of the 2000 Discipline is historical in nature and not intended to be prescriptive. Paragraph 102 is not applicable to the 2004 General Conference action on Calendar Item 1514, as adopted, with respect to the Doctrinal Standards of The United Methodist Church. Although resolutions are not church law and are without legal effect, Calendar Item 1514, as adopted, violates Restrictive Rules I, II, and V. Therefore, it was improperly before the 2004 General Conference. DIGEST Calendar Item 1514, as adopted by the 2004 General Conference, dealing with the Doctrinal Standards of The United Methodist Church, violates Restrictive Rules I, II, and V, was improperly before the Conference, and is null and void.

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