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Decision No. 1089

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April 23 2008
In Re: Request for Declaratory Decision from the Committee on Nominations of the 2004 Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference with respect to the Meaning, Application and Effect of ¶¶ 27.5, 705, 706 and 805 of the 2004 Book of Discipline to the Actions of the Secretary of General Conference Regarding Central Conference Representation and Proportional Jurisdictional Representation, the Concordat Agreement between The United Methodist Church and the Methodist Church of Puerto Rico, and in the Allocation of Membership of the General Boards and Agencies of The United Methodist Church.

Digest of Case

The secretary of the General Conference did not have the authority to declare ¶ 705.3(a-g) of the 2004 Book of Discipline superseded. The provisions for electing members to the general boards and agencies described in ¶¶ 705 and 706 of the 2004 Discipline are in conflict. The reconciliation of these two paragraphs must be accomplished by the 2008 General Conference for inclusion in the 2008 Book of Discipline.

Statement of Facts

The Committee on Nominations of the 2004 Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference voted unanimously to request a declaratory decision regarding the secretary of General Conference’s use of ¶¶ 705.3 or 705.5 of the 2004 Discipline and similar paragraphs to make allocations for membership on General Conference boards. The substance of this petition revolves around three issues raised by the Committee on Nominations of the 2004 Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference:

1. Did the Secretary [sic] of the General Conference correctly rule “due to actions of the 2004 General Conference regarding Central Conference representation and proportional jurisdictional representation (Calendar 1517) and the Concordat Agreement between the UMC and the Methodist Church of Puerto Rico (Calendar 15), that the text of ¶ 705.3 (a) through (g) [sic] was superseded”? 2. Did the Secretary [sic] of the General Conference correctly apply the Discipline when she allocated the members of the General Boards and Agencies to each annual conference? If the allocation was not appropriate, what, if any, are the determining provisions of the Discipline? If the Discipline is silent on the allocations to each annual conference, does the allocation revert to each Jurisdiction? 3. Did the Secretary [sic] of the General Conference correctly apply the Discipline when she allocated the number of members (regular members and/or at-large members) of the General Boards and Agencies to the Jurisdictions? If the allocations were not appropriate, what are the determining provisions of the Discipline?
Jurisdiction
The Judicial Council has jurisdiction under ¶ 2610 of the 2004 Book of Discipline.
Analysis and Rationale
The secretary of the General Conference does not have the authority to declare ¶ 705.3(a-g) superseded. The secretary cannot make substantive changes in actions adopted by the General Conference. Only the General Conference has the authority to supersede the legislation of prior General Conferences. In reviewing the disciplinary provisions for nominating and electing members to general boards and agencies, we find ¶¶ 705 and 706 to be in conflict with each other. Reconciliation of these provisions can best be addressed by General Conference action. The reconciliation of the conflicting provisions of ¶¶ 705 and 706 is an urgent matter, and these changes must be made by the 2008 General Conference. Nearly a full quadrennium has passed since the Connectional Table and the program boards and agencies were organized on the basis of the secretary of General Conferences’ understanding of the General Conference legislation in ¶¶ 705 and 706 of the 2004 Discipline. We render no opinion on the appropriateness of the allocations made by the secretary of the General Conference. The Judicial Council recognizes that nomination and election of members to General Conference boards and agencies is an enormously complex matter.
Decision
The secretary of the General Conference did not have the authority to declare ¶ 705.3(a-g) of the 2004 Book of Discipline superseded. The provisions for electing members to the general boards and agencies described in ¶¶ 705 and 706 of the 2004 Discipline are in conflict. The reconciliation of these two paragraphs must be accomplished by the 2008 General Conference for inclusion in the 2008 Book of Discipline. Shamwange P. Kyungu was absent. C. Rex Bevins, the first clergy alternate, participated in this decision.

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