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Decision No. 1128

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October 30 2009
In Re: Request for Declaratory Decision from the Commission on the General Conference on the Meaning, Effect, and Application of ¶ 13 of the Constitution as It Relates to ¶ 502.3e in Determining Any Restrictions on the Degree of Adjustment in Number of Delegates to be Made by the Secretary of the General Conference

Digest of Case

The Secretary of the General Conference has the authority to determine the number of delegates that each annual and missionary conference will elect to the General Conference within the provisions of the Constitution and the legislative enactments of the General Conference.

Statement of Facts

In a meeting on Tuesday, October 28, 2008, the Commission on the General Conference adopted a resolution to submit a petition to the Judicial Council as follows:

Resolved that the Commission on the General Conference petitions the Judicial Council for a declaratory decision as to the application of Division Two, Section II, Article I.1 (¶13) of the Constitution and paragraph 502.3e) of The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church 2008 in determining the number of delegates to the General Conference. Are there restrictions to the degree of adjustment that is made by the Secretary of the General Conference as long as the result is proportional and is within the 600 to 1000 delegate count?
Jurisdiction
The Judicial Council has jurisdiction under ¶ 2610 of the 2008 Discipline.
Analysis and Rationale
In the Constitution, ¶ 13 specifies that “The General Conference shall be composed of not less than 600 nor more than 1,000 delegates, one half of whom shall be clergy and one half lay members, to be elected by the annual conferences.” Further ¶ 15 says “The General Conference shall fix the ratio of representation in the General, jurisdictional, and central conferences … computed on a two factor basis: (1) the number of clergy members of the annual conference and the missionary conference, and (2) the number of professing members in the annual conference and the missionary conference…” with the additional stipulation that each annual or missionary conference “shall be entitled to at least one clergy and one lay delegate in the General Conference and also in the jurisdictional or central conference.” In ¶ 502 of the Discipline, the General Conference has expressed the manner in which its Constitutional authority in this matter is exercised. Specifically, ¶ 502.3 says “The secretary of the General Conference shall calculate the number of delegates to be elected by each annual conference, based on the factors specified above …” Moreover, in ¶ 502.3e, the General Conference has specified that any adjustment that increases or decreases the number of delegates which an annual conference elects must “be proportionally the same for the two factors.” In Decision 687, the Judicial Council ruled that the total number of delegates to which each annual conference is entitled will be determined by the computation of those two factors together and that the total number of delegates from each conference will be an equal number of clergy and laity. Besides the provisions in the Constitution, the legislative enactments of the General Conference, and the precedent of Judicial Council decision, there are no restrictions on the calculations that the Secretary of the General Conference is authorized to make.

Decision

The Secretary of the General Conference has the authority to determine the number of delegates that each annual and missionary conference will elect to the General Conference within the provisions of the Constitution and the legislative enactments of the General Conference.

Concurring Opinion
The Secretary of the General Conference has authority to determine the number of delegates for General Conference only if the two factor basis of ¶ 15 produces a number in excess of 1000 or less than 600 (¶ 13). Otherwise, the Secretary’s determination is restricted to the number of delegates calculated by the formula identified in ¶ 15 and given expression in ¶ 502.3. F. Belton Joyner, Jr. October 31, 2009

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