Decision Number 302
Request of the General Conference Commission on Entertainment and Program for a Declaratory Decision as to How the Delegates to the 1970 Special Session of the General Conference Shall Be Constituted.
The delegates to the 1970 special session of the General Conference shall be the delegates who were elected to the General Conference held in Dallas, Texas, on Saturday, May 4, 1968, or their lawful successors in accordance with Paragraph 13 of the Constitution. A particular Annual Conference may have a new election; but the delegates elected by it at such election shall be "replacements" for the delegates to the 1968 General Conference and must qualify in all particulars as to number, former denominational and Annual Conference membership, and other disciplinary qualifications in the same manner as the persons they "replace."
Statement of Facts
The Committee on Conferences of the Uniting Conference approved and presented to the Conference Committee Report Number 46 which states:
"This uniting conference calls a special session to meet in April, 1970 for not more than five (5) days at such time and in such place as the Commission on Entertainment and Program may determine, for the purpose of transacting any business that a regular session of the General Conference could transact." This report was discussed by the General Conference and adopted without amendment.
The Commission on Entertainment and Program has requested a Declaratory Decision from the Judicial Council on pertinent items as follows:
"1. Does the ruling in Decision 221 relative to requiring the exact same number of delegates serving a special session as served the preceding regular session apply in 1970 as it did in 1966? "2. If an annual conference decides under Par. 13 to hold a new election for 1970 does the new formula for determining the number of delegates to be elected as provided in Par. 601 apply, or does the conference elect the same number of delegates as it had for the first General Conference of The United Methodist Church in 1968? "3. Does the provision in Decision 221 relative to conferences eliminated since 1968 through transfer or merger apply for the special session of 1970?
"4. In a case where an annual conference of the former Evangelical United Brethren Church or the former Central Jurisdiction of The Methodist Church has merged with several successor conferences and no new election is held, will such a conference be entitled to have its 1968 delegates seated at the 1970 special session?
"5. In a case where an annual conference of the former Evangelical United Brethren Church or the former Central Jurisdiction of The Methodist Church has merged with several successor conferences and these conferences decide to elect new delegates, how will the number of delegates to be elected by each successor conference be determined?
"6. In cases where mergers of annual conferences are consummated at the 1970 session preceding the special session of the General Conference, can new elections be held in accordance with Par. 13, or do the provisions of the 1968 legislation (see Calendar Report 217, Page 402 DCA, adopted Page 760 DCA) requiring election of General Conference delegates during the calendar year preceding the session of the General Conference prohibit new elections?"
The jurisdiction of the Judicial Council in this matter is set forth in Paragraph 1715 of the 1968 Discipline.
Analysis and Rationale
The Commission on Entertainment and Program of the General Conference has been faced with the problem of how the 1970 special session would be constituted as to membership. This is the matter referred to the Judicial Council.
The record of the Uniting Conference in Dallas (pages 641-644 DCA) reveals that there was considerable discussion relative to the determination of delegates for the special session. The question was raised whether it is to be an "adjourned" session of the 1968 Conference as the 1966 session of General Conference of The Methodist Church was held to be an "adjourned" session of the 1964 Conference (Judicial Council Decision 221). After discussion the Conference decided to leave the wording "special" rather than change it to "adjourned."
This was agreed to in light of the constitutional provision for "special" sessions which, so far as membership is concerned, is not different from what would obtain if it were an "adjourned" session. The discussion on the conference floor clearly indicates that the Conference approved the calling of the special session with the understanding that the delegates to that session would be the delegates to the 1968 General Conference which met on May 4 and ratified the actions (including the special session) of the Uniting Conference.
The Constitution (Par. 13) provides that the delegates to a special session shall be those of the last regular session except that if an Annual Conference chooses to hold a new election it may do so. This same provision was contained in the Judicial Council Decision 221 with reference to an "adjourned" session. In this respect there is no difference between the two. This is the general agreement to which the General Conference came before voting for the special session.
When this matter was before the Judicial Council of the former The Methodist Church, it held (with reference to an "adjourned" session) that there could be no change in the number of delegates as a result of conference mergers or consolidations. The same principle would apply here. Accepting the statement of the Constitution that the delegates to a special session shall be the delegates to the preceding regular session, it follows logically that if an Annual Conference should, for whatever reason, determine to hold a new election, it would be permitted to elect only persons to replace those who had been elected to the last regular General Conference. An Annual Conference should not be penalized nor should it be given advantage because of such election.
It would also follow logically that a person elected by an Annual Conference to "replace" a person formerly elected would be required to have the same disciplinary qualifications as the person replaced. Thus a conference which decides to hold a new election would be permitted to elect new delegates on a "one to one" replacement basis. Each person thus elected would be to replace a person formerly elected as a delegate to the regular General Conference and would be required to meet the disciplinary qualifications of the person one is elected to replace. Thus it would be a layman for a layman, a minister for a minister, a former Methodist for a former Methodist, a former Evangelical United Brethren for a former Evangelical United Brethren, and a former Central Jurisdiction member for a former Central Jurisdiction member. This is the only way that through a new election in one or more Annual Conferences the proper number and balance of delegates for the special session can be assured. Where Annual Conferences are merged, divided, or absorbed they would "take their delegates with them" and if replacements are to be elected, the successor conference organization would do the electing with due regard to the qualifications of persons being replaced.
An Annual Conference which has been merged or eliminated by the transfer of its churches to one or more other Annual Conferences can hold no new election because such an Annual Conference has ceased to exist. Delegates from such a conference to the 1968 General Conference of The United Methodist Church may be replaced for the 1970 special session of the General Conference only by the procedures outlined above.
The special session of the General Conference of The United Methodist Church to be held in 1970 shall have the exact number of delegates as the Dallas session of the General Conference except for representatives of electing units which are no longer members of the denomination. These delegates shall be the delegates to the first General Conference or their legal successors except in instances where an Annual Conference shall determine to hold a new election according to Paragraph 13 of the Constitution.
In instances where an Annual Conference holds a new election, it shall elect only replacements for the delegates who were elected to the 1968 General Conference. The replacements so elected shall be elected on a one for one basis and each newly elected delegate shall be required to meet fully all of the disciplinary requirements (former denominational and conference membership, layman, minister) as the delegate one is elected to replace.
Where consolidations and mergers change conference boundaries the delegates from such Annual Conferences will become delegates of the receiving Annual Conferences with which such delegate is affiliated by church membership or Annual Conference relation. If new delegates are elected for the 1970 special session, the procedures under which the original delegates were elected would apply. The new provisions cannot be effective prior to the elections for the 1972 General Conference.