Judicial Council Decisions Search
Decision No. 1225
October 24 2012
In Re: Review of Revised Standing Rules of the North Texas Conference in Light of Judicial Council Decision 1198
Digest of Case
The case is remanded to the North Texas Annual Conference for revision and completion of the plan and to fulfill disciplinary requirements of paragraph 604 and to comply with Decision 1198. This plan is to be returned to the Secretary of the Judicial Council 30 days after the close of the 2013 annual conference.
Statement of Facts
During the 2011 regular business session of the North Texas Annual Conference a request was made for a bishop’s decision of law regarding the constitutionality of the amended standing rules related to the structure of the annual conference, specifically related to Paragraphs 629, 632, 633, and 642 of the 2008 Discipline. Judicial Council Decision 1198 was rendered on October 28, 2011, in response to the request:
The text of the request is restated as follows: Request is hereby made that Bishop Bledsoe rule on the constitutionality of the Amendments to the Standing Rules of the North Texas Conference, Section I. (B) 1, STRUCTURE OF THE ANNUAL CONFERENCE, SPECIFIC AGENCIES, Mission of the Annual Conference. (North Texas Conference Journal 2010 – Pg. 281) WHEREAS, it is noted that the 2008 Book of Discipline mandates various annual conference boards and committees to carry out the intentional ministry actions of the General Conference as set forth in the following paragraphs, including but not limited to the following: ¶ 629 Church and Society; ¶ 632 Ethnicity in the Local Church; ¶ 633 Global Ministry; ¶ 642 Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns; among others. Ruling of the Bishop: I rule that the amendments to the Standing Rules of the North Texas Conference, Section I. (B) 1, STRUCTURE OF THE ANNUAL CONFERENCE, SPECIFIC AGENCIES, Mission of the Annual Conference (North Texas Conference Journal 2010 – Page 281) (Attachment A-1 hereto) are consistent with the Constitution and the 2008 Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church. Rationale Paragraphs 629, 632, 633, and 642 of the 2008 Book of Discipline all provide that another structure that provides for the functions of the relevant ministry and maintenance of the relevant connectional relationships may be utilized by the Annual Conference instead of the named bodies. Page 282 of the 2010 Annual Conference Journal (Attachment A-2 hereto) provides: “d. Center for Missional Outreach “The Center for Missional Outreach will address the priorities of ministry with the poor and improving global health. “It will also provide for the functions and maintain the connectional relationships required by BOD ¶ 632.1 (Ethnic Local Church Concerns), ¶ 642 (Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns), . . . . ¶ 629.1 (Board of Church and Society), ¶ 633.1 (Board of Global Ministries), and ¶ 633.5 (Committee on Parish Community Development).” There may be an issue here of accountability or performance, but I believe the cited Standing Rules are constitutional and legally valid.
An oral hearing was held on October 27, 2011, in San Diego, California. William T. Herrscher filed a brief and appeared for petitioner. The Annual Conference did not file a brief, but were represented by Bishop Earl Bledsoe, John Fiedler, and John W. Croft. See Decision 1198 to view the Analysis and Rationale in its entirety.
The Judicial Council has jurisdiction under ¶ 2609 of the 2008 Discipline.
Upon reviewing the record supplied by the North Texas Annual Conference, it is clear that the members of the North Texas Annual Conference sought to comply with the Decision 1198 requirements outlined in the Judicial Council analysis and rationale. The Judicial Council is appreciative for the thought, time and effort the leadership team of the North Texas Annual Conference put into developing this new structure. The record supplied indicates compliance in the following areas:
“All boards, commissions and committees mandated by the Discipline have been maintained and they are clearly identified and defined and the connectional relationship is clear and obvious.” “The prescribed number of members with method of nomination, election, fixed terms and diversity of membership must comply with the 2008 Discipline.” “The method of funding of each structure is defined in the adopted plan including submission in the prescribed manner as contained in the 2008 Discipline to the conference council on finance and administration.”
However the new structure fails to make provision for the ministry of Religion and Race ¶¶ 643.1), the Status and Role of Women (¶ 644), and Archives and History (¶ 641), each of which is mandated by the 2008 Discipline to be a part of every conference structure in the United Methodist Church. The Judicial Council remands this cause back to The North Texas Annual Conference for comprehensive review, revision, and completion of the plan. The plan must fulfill the disciplinary requirements set forth in ¶ 604, comply with Decision 1198, and conform to the Discipline of The United Methodist Church. The plan is to be returned to the Secretary of the Judicial Council not later than 30 days after the close of the 2013 annual conference.
The case is remanded to the North Texas Annual Conference for revision and completion of the plan and to fulfill disciplinary requirements of paragraph 604 and to comply with Decision 1198. This plan is to be returned to the Secretary of the Judicial Council 30 days after the close of the 2013 annual conference. Beth Capen was absent. Sandra Lutz, first lay alternate, participated in this decision.