Decision Number 712
Mandatory Agencies in the New York Conference Plan of Organization, with Particular Reference to Pars. 740 and 741.
The action of the New York Annual Conference in adopting the conference structure presented to the 1994 session is invalid insofar as it conflicts with the mandatory provisions of the 1992 Discipline, and is void and of no effect. The decision of the bishop is reversed.
Statement of Facts
At the 1994 session of the New York Annual Conference a new conference structure was adopted by the members of the conference. The new structure did not provide for many of the Conference boards and agencies as mandated by the 1992 Discipline. Presiding Bishop Forrest C. Stith was asked to render a decision of law "as to whether all of the entities mandated by the Book of Discipline were fairly represented in the new plan." Particular reference was made to Pars. 740 and 741, relating to mandatory Commissions on Religion and Race and Status and Role of Women, respectively.
The bishop ruled that "all agencies listed as 'shall' be organized in the Book of Discipline are listed in the new organizational arenas that reflect the nature of the work." He submitted examples of such "organizational arenas" and attached a copy of the new organizational structure. An examination of the structure revealed that several mandated conference boards and agencies were not represented.
The Judicial Council has jurisdiction under Par. 2613 of the 1992 Discipline.
Analysis and Rationale
In Decision 680 this Council ruled that the amendment to Par. 707.1 of the 1992 Discipline, which allows an Annual Conference to structure itself in a manner that is contrary to the mandatory provisions of the 1992 Discipline, is unconstitutional. It further stated:
The East Ohio Annual Conference in any restructuring may not set aside, modify or ignore the mandatory language in Pars. 707, 715, 722, 726, 728, 729, 730, 731, 732, 733, 734, 735, 738, 739, 740, 741, 743, and 2512.
In Decision 409 this Council said:
If each Annual Conference is free to decide for itself, without guidelines or controlling standards from any other source regarding any of the restrictive elements listed, the total connectional system of the church will be undercut at the Annual Conference level, not promoted and administered as the Constitution contemplates ....
We reaffirm that statement today.
The New York Annual Conference organizational structure as adopted at its 1994 session is invalid.
The action of the New York Annual Conference in adopting the conference structure presented to the 1994 session is invalid insofar as it conflicts with the mandatory provisions of the 1992 Discipline, and is void and of no effect.
The decision of the bishop is reversed.