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Memorandum No. 1049

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October 26 2006
In Re: Review of Bishop’s Decision of Law in the North Georgia Annual Conference Concerning Whether Local Pastors Under Appointment Are Eligible to Vote on Clergy Delegates to General and Jurisdictional Conferences.

Decision

During the regular session of the 2006 North Georgia Annual Conference the President of that Conference’s Fellowship of Associate Members and Local Pastors asked the following question of law: “In light of the changes in Amendment VII, certified by the Council of Bishops and the openness to interpretation of Judicial Council Decision 1034, I move request for a Bishop’s Decision of Law to answer the following question: namely, can local pastors under appointment vote on clergy delegates to General and Jurisdictional Conferences in 2007?” The presiding bishop ruled:

Local pastors under appointment are not eligible to vote on clergy delegates to General and Jurisdictional Conferences in 2007. Amendment VII (¶ 32) defines clergy membership as consisting of ‘deacons and elders in full connection, probationary members, associate members and local pastors under appointment.’ The voting rights of each clergy category are further delineated in ¶ 602 of the 2004 Discipline. Decision 1034 says in pertinent part ‘The amendment does not limit or change the voting rights of the various clergy categories.’ Decision 1034 assumes the existence of ‘categories’ of clergy with different voting rights. Additionally, no reference to or change of ¶ 602 was made in Decision 1034. Furthermore, ¶35 of the Constitution says, ‘The ordained ministerial delegates to the General Conference and to the Jurisdictional or Central Conferences shall be elected by and from the ordained ministerial members in full connection with the Annual Conference or provisional Annual Conference.’ It is clear by ¶ 35 that only fully ordained clergy are to be delegates or to vote for clergy delegates.
The Judicial Council has jurisdiction under ¶ 2609.6 of the 2004 Book of Discipline. The bishop’s decision of law is affirmed on the basis of the rationale set forth in his ruling.
DIGEST
Amendment VII (2004) to ¶ 32 of the Constitution of The United Methodist Church did not change ¶¶ 35 and 602 of the 2004 Book of Discipline. Only ordained clergy in full connection are eligible to vote on clergy delegates to the General, Jurisdictional and Central Conferences. Local pastors under appointment are not eligible to vote in the election of clergy delegates to the General, Jurisdictional, and Central Conferences. October 27, 2006 Mary A. Daffin and Shamwange P. Kyungu were absent.

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