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Decision No. 1100

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October 24 2008
In Re: Request from the 2008 General Conference of The United Methodist Church with Respect to the Meaning, Application and Effect of Legislative Calendar Item 742 Regarding the Creation of a U.S. Regional Conference

Digest of Case

Calendar Item 742 would mandate the creation of a regional conference or regional conferences in the United States. If Calendar Item 742 is approved through the process of amendment set forth in ¶59, the 2012 General Conference must enact enabling legislation in order to create a U.S. regional conference or regional conferences.

Statement of Facts

On May 1, 2008, the General Conference adopted Calendar Item 742, Petition No. 80809. A request for a declaratory decision was adopted by one-fifth of the delegates present and voting. The record of proceedings provided by the Secretary of the General Conference is as follows:

Pursuant to ¶2610 of the 2004 Book of Discipline, I move that the 2008 General Conference request a Declaratory Decision from the Judicial Council with respect to the meaning, application and effect of legislative Calendar Item 742 regarding the creation of a US Regional Conference. My request is to ascertain if adoption of Calendar Item 742 creates a US Regional Conference before the next General Conference if adopted by two-thirds of the General Conference present and voting and two-thirds affirmative vote of the aggregate number of members of the annual conferences, present and voting.
The text of the approved petition is as follows:
Amend ¶10 Article III by deletion and addition:
There shall be central regional conferences for the church outside the United States of America and, if necessary provisional central regional conferences, all with such powers, duties, and privileges as are hereinafter set forth. (The change in name from “central” to “regional” takes effect January 1, 2013, at which time this parenthetical procedural vote will be removed from the Constitution.)
Rationale: General Conference should be able to create similar structures for all of our worldwide church. Each Annual Conference should belong to a Regional Conference which should be able to organize subunits called Jurisdictional Conferences. Further study is needed to explore how to live more fully into our worldwide nature. On May 2, 2008, the Judicial Council determined that it did not have sufficient time to research the question and deliver a decision prior to the adjournment of the General Conference. The matter was deferred for consideration to the Judicial Council’s Fall 2008 Docket. See Memorandum 1097.

JURISDICTION

The Judicial Council has jurisdiction pursuant to ¶ 2610 of the 2004 Discipline.

ANALYSIS AND RATIONALE

Calendar Item 742 proposes an amendment to ¶ 10 of the Constitution by mandating regional conferences in lieu of central conferences. By implication, the proposal would abolish the entities known as central conferences. However, the proposed amendment does nothing to harmonize its content with the remaining provisions of the Discipline. Under ¶ 10 of the 2004 Discipline, central conferences exist for the church outside the United States. The proposed amendment would mandate the creation of a regional conference or regional conferences in the United States. The plain text of the proposed amendment provides that the change in name is to take effect on January 1, 2013. After said date, the parenthetical procedural note is to be removed from the Constitution. We conclude that the General Conference did not intend for Calendar Item 742 to create a regional conference in the United States before the next General Conference. If a two-thirds affirmative vote of the aggregate number of members of the annual conferences present and voting approve the amendment to the Constitution, it will take effect on January 1, 2013. It is our opinion that the 2012 General Conference must enact enabling legislation in order to effect the creation of a regional conference or regional conferences in the United States and implement the amendment.

Decision

The adoption of Calendar Item 742 would mandate creation of a regional conference or regional conferences in the United States. If Calendar Item 742 is approved through the process of amendment set forth in ¶ 59, the 2012 General Conference must enact enabling legislation in order to create a U.S. regional conference or regional conferences.

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