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Decision No. 1025

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October 28 2005
In Re: Request from the Northern Illinois Annual Conference for Declaratory Decision on the Meaning, Application and Effect of ¶¶ 715 and 2532.6 of the 2004 Discipline with Respect to Disabled-Accessibility in Local Church and District Office Facilities.

Digest of Case

Paragraph 2532.6 of the 2004 Discipline does not specifically assign to district superintendents or their offices the task of sending out annual accessibility audit forms for churches. The responsibility for assignment of such task resides with the office of the Bishop. Paragraph 715.2 requires that all forms of notice and publicity comply with the accessibility dictates of ¶715.2. Paragraph 715.2 does not require district offices to be made accessible, but does provide for relocation of events to locations that are accessible

Statement of Facts

On June 11, 2005, the Northern Illinois Annual Conference requested a declaratory decision from the Judicial Council concerning the meaning, application, and effect of two paragraphs of the Book of Discipline. The questions submitted for declaratory decision are as follows:

1) Does Para. 2532.6 (Book of Discipline, 2004) which states that “the Accessibility Audit for churches shall be used in filling out the annual church and/or charge conference reports” mean that the district superintendents or their offices must send out each year with other charge conference forms the audit form provided to them by the Committee on Ministry with Persons with Disabilities? 2) Does Para. 715.2 (Book of Discipline, 2004) which states that “If for any reason whatsoever any event is scheduled or held in a facility that does not conform (adequately accommodating persons with disabilities), all notices of the meeting will include plainly stated advice to that effect or alternately may bear a logo consisting of the international symbol for access placed inside a slashed circle” require that such notification be placed on all publicity for district and annual conference meetings, e.g., on posters, in district newsletters, and in The Reporter? 3) Does the aforementioned Para. 715.2 (Book of Discipline, 2004) which states that “all agencies and institutions shall, insofar as reasonably possible, schedule and hold all events . . . in accessible settings that adequately accommodate persons with disabilities” require district offices to either be made accessible or be relocated into accessible facilities?
Jurisdiction
The Judicial Council has jurisdiction under ¶2610 of the 2004 Discipline.
Analysis and Rationale
Paragraph 2532.6 of the 2004 Discipline states that the annual accessibility audit for churches shall be used in filling out the annual church and/or charge conference reports. There is nothing contained in the plain language of ¶2532.6 that specifically assigns the responsibility for sending out the annual accessibility audit forms along with other charge conference forms. The task is one to be delegated and assigned by the Bishop pursuant to the Bishop’s presidential authority. Paragraph 715.2 states that, "f for any reason whatsoever any event is scheduled or held in a facility that does not so conform, all notices of the meeting will include plainly stated advice to that effect, or alternatively may bear a logo consisting of the international symbol for access placed inside a slashed circle." The provision requires that such notification be placed on all publicity for district and annual conference meetings, e.g., on posters and district newsletters and in The Reporter. Our interpretation of the plain language of ¶715.2 is that all means all. Consequently, all notices and publicity for district and annual conference meetings such as posters, district newsletters, and The Reporter are subject to the requirement of ¶715.2. The third question presented is whether ¶715.2 which states that: "All agencies and institutions shall, insofar as reasonably possible, schedule and hold all events . . . in accessible settings that adequately accommodate persons with disabilities" requires district offices to either be made accessible or be relocated into accessible facilities. Paragraph 715.2 requires agencies and institutions to schedule and hold all events in accessible settings that adequately accommodate persons with disabilities insofar as reasonably possible. We hold that the paragraph does not assign a requirement to annual conferences, agencies and institutions to make their facilities accessible for the purpose of scheduling and holding its events. The paragraph does, however, provide that such events are to be relocated into facilities that adequately accommodate persons with disabilities insofar as the same is reasonably possible.
Decision
Paragraph 2532.6 of the 2004 Discipline does not specifically assign to district superintendents or their offices the task of sending out annual accessibility audit forms for churches. The responsibility for assignment of such task resides with the office of the Bishop. Paragraph 715.2 requires that all forms of notice and publicity comply with the accessibility dictates of ¶715.2. Paragraph 715.2 does not require district offices to be made accessible, but does provide for relocation of events to locations that are accessible. October 29, 2005 Shamwange P. Kyungu was absent.

Decision

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