Decision Number 211
Constitutionality of Paragraph 680 of the Discipline Implementing Amendment IX of the Constitution of The Methodist Church
Paragraph 680 of the Discipline as adopted on May 1, 1964, by the General Conference of The Methodist Church is constitutional.
Statement of Facts
On May 1, 1964, the General Conference of The Methodist Church in regular session in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, adopted the report of the Commission on Interjurisdictional Relations as perfected by the General Conference (Daily Christian Advocate, May 2, 1964, page 242). Thereupon, the General Conference referred to the Judicial Council for its decision the question of the constitutionality of Recommendation 3 appearing on page 25 of said report. ( Daily Christian Advocate, May 2, 1964, page 242). Recommendation 3 of said report (which was adopted by the General Conference as set forth above) reads as follows:
"P. 680. To clarify procedures under the Constitutional provisions of Division Two, Article V, Section VII (Amendment IX) for the transfer of a local church from one Annual Conference to another and for the transfer of an Annual Conference from one jurisdiction to another, the following rules are adopted:
"1. The votes required for transfer of a local church may originate in the local church or either of the Annual Conferences involved and the votes shall be effective regardless of the order in which taken. The votes required for transfer of an Annual Conference may originate in the Annual Conference or among the Annual Conferences of either Jurisdiction involved and shall be effective regardless of the order in which taken.
"2. In each case, a vote of a two-thirds (2/3) majority of those present and voting shall remain effective unless and until rescinded prior to the completion of the transfer by a vote of a majority of those present and voting."
Thus, we are now called upon to determine the constitutionality of the legislation which is now known as paragraph 680 of the Discipline.
The Judicial Council has jurisdiction of this request under Paragraph 904.1 of the 1960 Discipline.
Analysis and Rationale
Amendment IX of The Constitution of The Methodist Church (paragraph 45 of the 1960 Discipline) provides in pertinent part as follows:
"Art. V-1. A local church may be transferred from one Annual Conference to another in which it is geographically located upon approval by a two-thirds vote of those present and voting in each of the following:
a) The Quarterly Conference of the local church. b) A Church Conference of the local church. c) Each of the two Annual Conferences involved ....
2. An Annual Conference may be transferred from one jurisdiction to another upon approval by:
a) The Annual Conferences desiring transfer .... b) The remainder of the jurisdiction from which the transfer is to be made . . . . c) The jurisdiction to which the transfer is to be made. . . ."
Amendment IX does not specify the order in which these votes must be taken. The legislation referred to in the request for a decision as to its constitutionality is designed to eliminate any uncertainty on this point.
A careful reading of Amendment IX and the new legislation referred to above (paragraph 680 of the Discipline) and a careful study of the legislative history of both the constitutional and legislative provisions referred to herein reveals that Paragraph 680 of the Discipline is not in conflict with any of the provisions of Amendment IX of the Constitution but rather is clarification and implementation thereof. Nor do we find Paragraph 680 of the Discipline to be unconstitutional upon any other ground.
It is, therefore, the decision of the Judicial Council that:
The legislation enacted by the 1964 General Conference adding a new paragraph to the Discipline to be numbered 680 clarifying and implementing the procedures which may be followed under Amendment IX of the Constitution is constitutional.