Decision Number 28
Boundaries, Baltimore and Central Pennsylvania Annual Conferences
The Constitution of The Methodist Church provides that boundaries of Annual Conferences shall be determined by the respective Jurisdictional Conference, and this power may not be delegated to the Annual Conferences themselves.
Statement of Facts
At the 1944 session of the Northeastern Jurisdictional Conference the Committee on Conference boundaries presented a report known as Report No. 2, relating to the settlement of boundaries between the Baltimore and the Central Pennsylvania Conferences. (See page 56, Daily Christian Advocate, Northeastern Jurisdiction.)
The Report was amended and adopted in the following form (See Page 103 Daily Christian Advocate, Northeastern Jurisdiction):
"Whereas the Committees on boundaries of the Baltimore and Central Pennsylvania Annual Conferences have given consideration to a change in the boundary line between said Conferences, and
"Whereas, such consideration has not progressed sufficiently to enable said Conferences to seek action on such change at this Jurisdictional Conference,
"Be It Resolved: that the Baltimore and Central Pennsylvania Annual
Conferences be empowered by the Jurisdictional Conference to adjust the boundary line during the quadrennium in such manner as may be agreed upon by said Conferences."
Subsequently as appears from the records in the Daily Christian Advocate (Northeastern Jurisdiction, page 109), the following action was taken:
"NORMAN M. MOSS (Troy): There was an action taken here this afternoon delegating to the Baltimore and the Central Pennsylvania Annual Conferences the power to adjust the boundary line during the next quadrennium. That seems to be in possible contradiction of the Constitution of our Church. Therefore I move that the Northeastern Jurisdictional Conference request a ruling of the Judicial Council on the constitutionality of the action taken by this Conference this afternoon in voting to empower the Baltimore and Central Pennsylvania Annual Conferences to adjust the boundary line between them during the quadrennium in such a manner as may be agreed upon by said Conferences.
"The reference is to Report No. 3 of the Committee on Conference Boundaries as amended by the motion of Dr. SkiIIington."
This motion, having received more than the required vote of one fifth of the body was declared adopted and the appeal allowed.
In the Constitution (see Paragraph 15, Article V, Section 4) the power to determine the boundaries of the Annual Conferences is enumerated as one of the powers of the Jurisdictional Conferences:
"4. To determine the boundaries of their Annual Conferences, provided that there shall be no Annual Conference with a membership of fewer than fifty ministers in full connection, except by the consent of the General Conference."
With respect to the method by which this should be done, the Constitution provides (See Paragraph 29, Article IV):
"Changes in the number, names and boundaries of the Annual Conferences may be effected by the Jurisdictional Conferences in the United States of America and by the Central Conferences outside the United States of America, according to the provisions under the respective powers of the Jurisdictional and the Central Conferences."
The boundaries of the Annual Conferences in The Methodist Church were established by the Uniting Conference in 1939, and the right to make all changes in these boundaries thereafter was granted to the Jurisdictional and the Central Conferences.
When the question of a proposed change in the boundaries of the Baltimore Annual Conference and the Central Pennsylvania Annual Conference was presented to the Northeastern Jurisdictional Conference (see page 56, Daily Christian Advocate, Northeastern Jurisdiction) the Committee on Boundaries voted non-concurrence on two grounds: First, because the Committee was of a divided opinion as to the right of the Jurisdictional Conference to delegate to the Annual Conferences its power to determine the boundary between them; and second, because the Jurisdictional Conference could not determine the disputed boundary wisely in the absence of definite recommendations as to the nature of the changes to be made. (See page 103, Daily Christian Advocate, Northeastern Jurisdiction.)
The amendment that was finally adopted by the Conference (see page 103, Daily Christian Advocate, Northeastern Jurisdiction) attempted to empower the Baltimore Annual Conference and the Central Pennsylvania Annual Conference to adjust the boundary line between them "during the quadrennium in such manner as may be agreed upon by said Conferences," on the ground that the case was urgent and that there was precedent for such a method of arriving at a change of boundaries affecting two Conferences in the same Jurisdiction.
It is the opinion of the Judicial Council that such power is specially committed to the Jurisdictional Conferences and cannot be thus delegated; that power was intentionally committed to the Jurisdictional Conferences in order that the final determination of the boundaries between Annual Conferences might be made by a body capable of acting wisely and impartially. The way by which the Jurisdictional Conferences reaches its decision as to where a wise and just boundary can be drawn is a matter for its own decision, but the Jurisdictional Conference, and it alone, can determine by legal enactment, what the boundary shall be.
The action of the Northeastern Jurisdictional Conference in attempting to empower the Baltimore Annual Conference and the Central Pennsylvania Annual Conference to give effect during the quadrennium to any agreement mutually reached by the two Conferences, as to the boundary between them, is therefore unconstitutional.
F. R. Bayley dissents on the ground that the power granted to the Baltimore Annual Conference and the Central Pennsylvania Annual Conference was administrative and not legislative.