Judicial Council Decisions Search
Decision No. 1173
October 29 2010
In Re: Review of a Bishop’s Decision of Law in the Iowa Annual Conference Regarding Annual Conference “Rules for the Election of General and Jurisdictional Delegates” As They Relate to ¶¶ 162, 164, and 721
Digest of Case
An Annual Conference may adopt rules for the election of General and Jurisdictional Conference delegates so long as said rules do not conflict with the 2008 Discipline. The rules adopted by the Iowa Annual Conference for the election of General and Jurisdictional Conference delegates do not conflict with ¶¶ 162T, 164A, or 721 of the Discipline. The bishop’s decision of law is affirmed.
Statement of Facts
Prior to the close of the 2010 session of the Iowa Annual Conference, a written request for a bishop’s Decision of Law was submitted to the presiding bishop. The request was signed by a lay member of the Iowa Annual Conference. The Question of Law is as follows:
Is the Annual Conference allowed to adopt, in its rules for the election of General and Jurisdictional Conference Delegates, either or both of the following two provisions, each of which violates, ignores and is inconsistent with provisions of the 2008 Book of Discipline including but not limited to Paragraphs 162T, 164A and 721?The request for a ruling of law arose because the Iowa Annual Conference adopted rules for the election of General and Jurisdictional Conference delegates that contained provisions some thought violated the 2008 Discipline. The provision limited promotional materials of nominees to 250-words, and strongly discouraged nominees from distributing materials in mass mailings. The bishop ruled that the adopted rules for the election of General and Jurisdictional Conference delegates in the Iowa Annual Conference did not violate the Discipline.
An Annual Conference may adopt rules for the election of General and Jurisdictional Conference delegates so long as said rules do not conflict with the Discipline. The rules adopted by the Iowa Annual Conference for the election of General and Jurisdictional Conference delegates do not conflict with ¶¶ 162T, 164A, or 721 of the Discipline. The bishop’s decision of law is affirmed. October 30, 2010
Material distributed should be used for information relative to matters that have been before or are coming before the General Conference and not for soliciting membership in an organization. Distribution method shall be at least 30 feet outside any entrance door to the plenary or committee meeting room. Distribution shall be done by representatives of the publishing groups. Distributors shall be in the smallest number capable of effecting adequate distribution to those entering. During distribution, it is the responsibility of the distributors not to impede or interfere with the entrance or exit of persons or to hamper the general flow of pedestrian traffic.[pp.1913-1914 of the 2008 General Conference. Daily Christian Advocate, Volume 4, Number 3]With such guidelines, delegates who would prefer to not be exposed to unofficial materials are able to avoid same. Similarly, the delegates that appreciate reading the materials of all of the various unofficial and official groups in the denomination are able to easily obtain those materials each day as they enter the conference hall. It would likewise be my hope that within our annual conferences we are able to be respectful and distinguish between those members of our conferences that are eager to receive supplemental and unofficial materials and those who would prefer to avoid “unofficial” media. Finally, the cases cited, by those who are challenging the conference rules, are distinguishable from this case in that those cases required candidates to do something that was not required in the Discipline. Here, the conference rules are setting forth the limits on that which will be done by the office of the Conference Secretary (i.e., restricting candidates’ biographical sketches to no more than 250 words) and strongly urging candidates to observe a certain decorum and refrain from mass mailings. As long as the conference is not requiring candidates to provide biographical sketches (by precluding persons from the ballot if they do not submit a bio) and not sponsoring official forums or surveys as an annual conference, then the problems that occurred in the cases discussed in Decisions 842 and 1083 are not at issue in this case. Beth Capen October 30, 2010