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Memorandum No. 1127

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October 30 2009
In Re: Review of a Decision of Law by Bishop Jonathan D. Keaton of the West Michigan Annual Conference Regarding Adoption of a Master Group Program for Insuring All Churches in the Conference

Digest of Case

The matter is remanded to the presiding bishop of the West Michigan Annual Conference for a clarification of the record within thirty days from the date of the decision. The matter is deferred to the Spring 2010 docket, pending presentation of materials mandated by the Discipline and by the Rules of Practice and Procedure of the Judicial Council.

Statement of Facts

The Judicial Council has received four documents concerning this matter: the minutes of the Annual Conference session on June 6, 2009; a copy of what appears to be legislative item 10 which received consideration during that session; a form used to report decisions of law by a bishop, signed by Bishop Keaton, with an attached plain piece of paper which contained two small paragraphs totaling nine lines of text; and a letter signed by a pastor in the West Michigan Annual Conference. The minutes give no indication that the request for a decision of law was properly submitted to the bishop in the regular business of the conference session, as required in ¶ 2609.6 of the Discipline. The form signed by Bishop Keaton provides no date when it was mailed to the Secretary of the Judicial Council. The materials provided by the annual conference secretary fail to offer an exact statement of the question submitted and the ruling of the bishop, as required by ¶ 2609.6. In short, the documents submitted in this matter give no true indication that a decision of law was ever sought or that a decision of law was ever made by the bishop. The Judicial Council cannot claim jurisdiction over a matter whose content gives no indication that it meets the criteria which allow the Judicial Council to assert jurisdiction. The materials submitted in this matter are insufficient to demonstrate facts adequate to achieving the threshold required to confer jurisdiction.

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