Decision Number 473
Eligibility of Ministerial Members of the Annual Conference on Leave to Participate in the Election of Delegates, or Be Elected, to General or Jurisdictional Conferences.
Ministerial members of an Annual Conference in full connection may participate in the election of General Conference and Jurisdictional Conference ministerial delegates and are eligible for election while on Sabbatical leave, Disability Leave, or Leave of Absence.
Statement of Facts
At the June 1979 session of the Iowa Annual Conference, a motion was approved to
"petition the Judicial Council of the United Methodist Church to issue a Declaratory Decision regarding the eligibility of Ministerial members of the Annual Conference who are on Sabbatical Leave, Disability or a Leave of Absence to participate in, or be a candidate for, election to membership in the General and Jurisdictional Conference."
The Judicial Council has jurisdiction under Par. 2515 of the 1976 Discipline.
Analysis and Rationale
Par. 39, Article IV of the Constitution provides that
"The ministerial delegates to the General Conference and to the Jurisdictional or Central Conference shall be elected by the ministerial members in full connection with the Annual Conference or Provisional Annual Conference provided ... [the delegates] are in full connection with the Annual Conference or Provisional Annual Conference electing them when elected and at the time of holding the General and Jurisdictional or Central Conference."
Par. 420 states that
"Members in full connection shall have the right to vote on all matters in the Annual Conference except in the election of lay delegates to the General and Jurisdictional Conferences (Par. 700.1 (a) ... They shall be eligible to hold office in the Annual Conference and to be elected delegates to the General and Jurisdictional Conferences under the provision of the Constitution." (Par. 39, Art. IV).
Par. 700.1(a) confirms this right for members in full connection and specifically precludes Probationary and Associate members from voting for the election of General and Jurisdictional Conference ministerial delegates. (Par. 700.1 (b) (c). It is therefore clear that one of the rights guaranteed a member in full connection is the right to vote and be eligible for election. Sabbatical leaves are provided for in Par. 425, Disability leaves in Par. 431, and Leaves of Absence in Par. 433. In none of these legislative passages is a member in full connection denied either the vote or eligibility for election with regard to General and Jurisdictional Conferences. In Par. 433, it should be noted that a member in the relation of Leave of Absence is not eligible for membership on conference committees, commissions, or boards. However, there is no limitation on eligibility for election to the General or Jurisdictional Conferences, nor is the member denied a vote in such election. (See Judicial Council Decisions No. 87, 88 with respect to retired members.)
Ministerial members of an Annual Conference in full connection may participate in the election of General and Jurisdictional Conference ministerial delegates and are eligible for election while on Sabbatical leave, Disability leave, or Leave of Absence.