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Decision No. 1067

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April 27 2007
In Re: Request for a Declaratory Decision by the Minnesota Annual Conference Concerning the Meaning of the Term “Urban Center” in ¶ 2548.7 of the 2004 Book of Discipline.

Digest of Case

Paragraph 2548.7 of the 2004 Book of Discipline vests each annual conference with the authority to determine what constitutes an urban center given the context of ministry in each annual conference.

Statement of Facts

The 2006 session of the Minnesota Annual Conference adopted a motion requesting a declaratory decision from the Judicial Council on the following question:

Must “urban center” in Par. 2548.7 mean “municipality,” or may annual conference trustees interpret it as a “Metropolitan Statistical Area” (as determined by the U.S. Census Bureau) or as some other urban entity broader than “municipality”?
Jurisdiction
The Judicial Council has jurisdiction under ¶ 2610 of the 2004 Book of Discipline.
Analysis and Rationale
Paragraph 2548.7 of the 2004 Discipline provides that:
When properties from the discontinuation of a congregation or abandonment are sold in urban centers with more than 50,000 population, the proceeds of sale must be used for new and/or existing ministries, within that urban center.
The General Conference has not defined the term “urban centers.” Indeed, what constitutes an “urban center” could vary from annual conference to annual conference. Paragraph 2548 governs the actions of annual conferences in the handling of local church property following discontinuation or abandonment. Because ¶ 2548 vests in the annual conference the authority to handle such property in the ways enumerated in that paragraph, the General Conference has left to each annual conference the determination of what constitutes an “urban center” given the context of ministry in each annual conference.
Decision
Paragraph 2548.7 of the 2004 Book of Discipline vests each annual conference with the authority to determine what constitutes an urban center given the context of ministry in each annual conference. April 28, 2007 Shamwange P. Kyungu was absent.

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