SUMMARY OF 2011 JUDICIAL DECISIONS OF THE UMC

JUDICIAL COUNCIL DECISIONS

Charge Conferences – Who May Preside: Judicial Council Decision No. 1148 (2010
The district superintendent shall preside at the meetings of the charge conference or may designate an elder to preside. Any practice or policy to the contrary is incompatible with and hence a violation of ¶ 246.5 of the Discipline.

Apportionment: Judicial Council Decision No. 1121
Each local church is obligated to pay the amounts apportioned to it for World Service, conference benevolences and other general church, jurisdictional and annual conference funds. Payment in full of these apportionments by local churches is the first benevolent responsibility of the church. The bishop’s decision of law is affirmed.

Local Pastors: Judicial Council Decision No. 1101 (2008)
Retired local pastors are not clergy and may not vote as clergy during an annual conference session. The clergy membership of an annual conference consists of deacons and elders in full connection, probationary members, associate members, and local pastors under appointment. When a local pastor is no longer under appointment, he or she resumes lay status and may not vote as a clergy member.

Retired Elders: Judicial Council Decision No. 1126 (2009).
A retired elder can serve as chairperson of the local church committee on finance.

Conflict Between Annual Conference Duties of Bishop & Service On General Board Or Agency: Memorandum No. 1116 (2009).
There is no conflict between a bishop’s presidential duties in an annual conference and the responsibilities of a bishop as a general superintendent of the church or as a member of a general board or agency of the church

RESERVED SACRAMENT: Judicial Council Decision No. 1109 (2008).
Paragraph 1117.9, as amended by the 2008 General Conference, creates a doctrine of the “reserved sacrament” for The United Methodist Church. Paragraph 1117.9, as amended by the 2008 General Conference, contravenes Restrictive Rule I. It thereby has the effect of altering Part II, Section 3, Article XVIII of the Discipline without legislative authority to do so. Hence, ¶ 1117.9, as amended by the 2008 General Conference, is null and void. To achieve such a change of doctrine will require a two-thirds majority vote by the General Conference and three-fourths of the aggregate votes of the annual conferences.

CENTRAL CONFERENCES: Judicial Council Decision No. 1149 (2010).
“The sentence in ¶¶ 413.2, 2704.1d, and 2712.7 of the 2008 Book of Discipline, which reads, ‘For the purpose of this paragraph, the United Methodist bishops of the central conferences shall constitute one college of bishops’ is unconstitutional. Any complaint against a bishop of the Philippines Central Conference shall be handled under the remaining provisions of ¶ 413.2 of the 2008 Discipline.”

GUARANTED APPOINTMENT: Decision No. 1226
In Re: Request from the General Conference for a Declaratory Decision as to the constitutionality of legislation Approved as Calendar Item 355 Regarding Guaranteed Appointments
DECISION
Security of appointment has long been a part of the tradition of The United Methodist Church and its predecessor bodies. Abolishing security of appointment would destroy our historic plan for our itinerant superintendency. Fair process procedures, trials and appeals are integral parts of the privilege of our clergy of right to trial by a committee and of appeal and is an absolute right which cannot be eradicated by legislation. The amendments to ¶ 337, as contained in Calendar Item 355, are unconstitutional and violate the third and fourth Restrictive Rules of the Constitution. The original ¶ 337 of the Discipline is restored and maintained and the changes made thereto at 2012 General Conference are null, void and of no effect. The amendment to ¶ 321, as contained in Calendar Item 352, is also declared repugnant to the Constitution and, hence, unconstitutional. The original ¶ 321 of the Discipline is restored and maintained and the changes made thereto by the 2012 general Conference are null, void, and of no effect. Calendar Item 358, the new transitional leave ¶ 354, is declared unconstitutional and Calendar Item 359, which removed the language of a transitional leave from ¶ 354 of the Discipline, is also declared unconstitutional. The current language for a transitional leave as provided for in ¶ 354 is restored and maintained.

Beth Capen was absent. Sandra Lutz, first lay alternate, participated in this decision.
Saturday, October 27, 2012.

LEGALITY OF VENUE OF AN ANNUAL CONFERENCE; Judicial Decision 1196
In Re. REVIEW OF A BISHOP’S RULING OF LAW IN THE PHILIPPINES ANNUAL CONFERENCE cavite REGARDING THE LEGALITY OF THE VENUE, COMPOSITION,
ACTIONS AND DECISIONS OF THE SESSION, INCLUDING THE ELECTION OF DELEGATES TO GENERAL AND CENTRAL CONFERENCES.

DECISION
The Tagaytay Mission Camp site of the 2011 Philippines Annual Conference – Cavite was validly chosen and designated. All actions of said Annual Conference session are valid including the venue, composition, and decisions of the session, including the appointments and the election of delegates to General and Central Conference. Any purported Annual Conference actions taken outside of said Tagaytay Mission Camp session are null, void, and of no effect. The bishop’s decision of law is affirmed.

Ruben T. Reyes recused himself and did not participate in the deliberation.
October 28, 2011 San Diego, California

LEGALITY OF THE VENUE OF AN ANNUAL CONFERENCE: DECISION 1152
IN RE: Review of a Bishop’s Decision of Law in the Middle Philippines Annual Conference Regarding the Designation of the Site of an Annual Conference Session Pursuant to ¶ 603.3
DIGEST
The Wesleyan University Philippines site of the Middle Philippines Annual Conference was validly chosen and designated by a majority of the district superintendents with the consent of the bishop in charge. Any purported Annual Conference actions taken outside of said Wesleyan University Philippines session are null, void, and of no effect. The bishop’s decision of law is affirmed.
DECISION
The Wesleyan University Philippines site of the Middle Philippines Annual Conference was validly chosen and designated by a majority of the district superintendents with the consent of the bishop in charge. Any purported Annual Conference actions taken outside of said Wesleyan University Philippines session are null, void, and of no effect. The bishop’s decision of law is affirmed.
Dennis L. Blackwell was absent.
Ruben T. Reyes recused himself and did not participate in any of the proceedings related to this decision. Jay Arthur Garrison, first lay alternate, participated in this decision.
May 22, 2010
CONCURRING OPINION
Although we agree that Wesleyan University Philippines was the legitimate site of the February 2010 regular session of the Middle Philippines Annual Conference, we are disturbed by the asymmetrical way in which that decision was made. The context of a deeply divided annual conference has led all parties to work in new and difficult ways. The Judicial Council has no authority to engage in the resolution of those divisions, but only to rule on the bishop’s decision of law. In a matter as convoluted as this circumstance, there are many peripheral issues that could be addressed, but to do so is beyond the jurisdiction of the Judicial Council.

F. Belton Joyner, Jr. Katherine Austin Mahle Jay Arthur Garrison Angela Brown
Beth Capen Susan Henry-Crowe
May 22, 2010

CLERGY RE-ADMISSION TO ANNUAL CONFERENCE MEMBERSHIP; Decision No. 552
In Re: Ministerial Relationships to Annual Conferences as Defined in Pars. 36, 421, and 422 as Related to Pars. 454.4 and 458 of the 1984 Discipline.
DIGEST OF CASE
Ministers who voluntarily surrender their credentials to the Annual Conference and later seek readmission to the ministry of the church, must seek readmission to the Annual Conference, or its legal successor, to which such surrender was made.
The General Conference has delegated to the original Annual Conference the right to determine readmission, thus that right has effectively been denied to any other Annual Conference.
DECISION
Ministers who voluntarily surrender their credentials to the Annual Conference and later seek readmission to the ministry of the church, must seek readmission to the Annual Conference, or its legal successor, to which such surrender was made.
Friday, October 25, 1985

ANNUAL CONFERENCE EQUALIZATION OF MEMBERSHIP; Decision No. 553
In Re: Lay/Clergy Equalization in the Annual Conference as Provided in the Constitution, Par. 35, of the 1984 Discipline.
DIGEST OF CASE
An Annual Conference rule which bases the constitutional lay/clergy equalization requirement of Par. 35 of the 1984 Discipline upon Conference clergy attendance rather than Conference clergy membership is unconstitutional.
DECISION
The new Conference Rule Number 1.015 adopted in 1985 by the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference is unconstitutional. The standard for clergy membership is actual membership in the Annual Conference, not clergy members who attend an Annual Conference.
Friday, October 25, 1985

LEGALITY OF GC REGARDING EQUALIZATION OF ANNUAL CONFERENCE MEMBERSHIP; Decision No. 1212
In Re: Request from the General Conference for a Declaratory Decision as to the Constitutionality of Legislation Approved as Calendar Item 20 Regarding the Balance Between Clergy and Lay membership of Annual Conference
DIGEST OF CASE
Legislation approved as Calendar Item 20 of the 2012 General Conference as amended regarding the balance between clergy and lay membership of annual conference is unconstitutional.
ANALYSIS AND RATIONALE
Paragraph 32, Article 1 of the Constitution states: “If the lay membership should number less that the clergy members of the annual conference, the annual conference shall, by its own formula, provide for the election of additional lay members to equalize lay and clergy membership of the annual conference.” This principle has been upheld by the Judicial Council in Decision 553: “An Annual Conference rule which bases the constitutional lay/clergy equalization requirement of ¶ 35 of the 1984 Discipline upon Conference clergy attendance rather than Conference clergy membership is unconstitutional.” There is no compelling evidence from the Daily Christian Advocate record to view this particular legislation as breaking new ground on this issue. Paragraph 334.5 speaks specifically about retired elders and states “voting membership shall be retained in the clergy member’s home annual conference” whether they attend sessions or not. Members cannot be eliminated from the count for equalization. The principle of equalization stands and cannot be subverted under the Constitution.
DECISION
The legislation approved as Calendar Item 20 as amended of the 2012 General Conference regarding the balance between clergy and lay membership of annual conference is unconstitutional.

Beth Capen was absent. Sandra Lutz, first lay alternate, participated in this decision.
Saturday, October 27, 2012

DELEGATES TO THE GC AND CENTRAL CONFERENCE ; DECISION 1181
IN RE: Request for a Declaratory Decision as to the Meaning, Effect, and Application of the Amended Division Two, Section VI, ¶ 35, Article IV of the 2008 Discipline
DECISION
The persons who are eligible to be elected as clergy delegates to the General
Conference, the jurisdictional conference, or the central conference by the annual conference or the provisional annual conference are the full clergy members of the annual or provisional conference. Eligibility to be elected is conferred by full conference membership without regard to ordination or to years of service.
The persons who are eligible to cast ballots as electors in choosing the clergy delegates to the General Conference, the jurisdictional conference, or the central conference, are (a) the persons who are eligible for election, (b) the associate members, (c) the provisional members who have been judged by the annual conference to have completed the educational requirements and have been elected to provisional membership, and (d) the local pastors who have met two criteria: they have, by either of two options as determined by the annual conference, completed the constitutionally specified level of education; and they have been appointed by the bishop and served for two consecutive years, immediately preceding the election, during which time no withdrawal of the appointed status has occurred.
Any enabling legislation in 2008 Discipline that does not conform to ¶ 35 is unconstitutional.
February 12, 2011

CONCUR IN PART AND DISSENT IN PART
I concur in the majority’s interpretation of the amendment. However, I do not believe that the portion of the constitutionality of the enabling legislation is properly before us. To that extent, I respectfully dissent.

Jon R. Gray
February 12, 2011

CONCUR IN PART AND DISSENT IN PART
I join in Jon Gray’s dissent and I further dissent from the majority’s determination that “two consecutive years under appointment” cannot be clarified as twenty-four months.

Beth Capen
February 12, 2011

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