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Decision No. 1133

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October 30 2009
In Re: Request from the Western North Carolina Conference for Review According to Paragraph 2609.4 of a Clergy Couple Housing Policy Presented to the Annual Conference

Digest of Case

The Judicial Council has no jurisdiction to review a proposal submitted to an Annual Conference. Nonetheless, let it be noted that the Judicial Council has amply ruled on clergy housing and allowance in Decisions 510, 547, 562 and 634.

Statement of Facts

During the regular session of the 2009 session of the Western North Carolina Annual Conference, the cabinet proposed a resolution related to a Clergy Couple Housing Policy. After discussion, the conference adopted a motion to refer the proposal to the Judicial Council for “review according to ¶2609.4”. The relevant portion of the record reflects the following from the conference minutes:

Patricia Lewis moved that the proposal be sent to Judicial Council for review according to paragraph 2609.4. Discussion followed: Kathy Sherrill (Winston-Salem District): Will we be able to perfect this petition when it returns from Judicial Council? Bishop answered it may be amended by the Judicial Council but we will get to deal with it again. Wesley Judy (Marion District): Has a problem distinguishing the reason for this petition. Response was that every clergy is entitled to housing and this is being sent to the Judicial Council to find out how this is applied. Conference approved sending the proposal to the Judicial Council.
Paragraph 2609.4 of the 2008 Discipline contains the following provision:
The Judicial Council shall hear and determine the legality of any action taken by any body created or authorized by the General Conference or any body created or authorized by a jurisdictional or central conference, upon appeal by one-third of the members thereof or upon request of the Council of Bishops or a majority of the bishops of the jurisdictional or central conference wherein the action was taken.
The paragraph cited by the motion adopted does nothing to confer jurisdiction in this case. Perfection, amendment or adoption of the proposal is within the sole prerogative of the Annual Conference legislative process. The Judicial Council has no jurisdiction to review agenda items that have not been adopted.

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