Memorandum Number 573


October 23, 1986

Request from an Annual Conference for a Declaratory Decision on a Proposed Salary Plan for Ministers.


The Baltimore Annual Conference will convene in a Special Session on November 22, 1986 to act on the proposed salary plan which has been drafted by its Task Force on Clergy Compensation. The 1986 Session of the Baltimore Annual Conference submitted a request to the Judicial Council for a declaratory decision as to whether the proposed provisions of the salary plan violate the provisions of the Discipline.

The Judicial Council does not have the authority to determine the constitutionality of proposed legislation from an Annual Conference. 2607.2.

Dissenting Opinion


I am unable to accept the view of the majority that the Judicial Council has no jurisdiction to rule on whether the proposed salary plan of the Baltimore Annual Conference violates specific provisions of the Discipline.

Ironically enough, in Decision No. 383 the Judicial Council did render a declaratory decision on a plan for "Equitable Salaries" which, like the present salary plan had been proposed but not adopted. I fail to see any substantial difference between the circumstances under which the Judicial Council rendered Decision No. 383 and the circumstances in this case.

Furthermore, the Discipline provides for review of proposed legislation. 2615 reads:

1. The Judicial Council, on petition as hereinafter provided shall have jurisdiction to make a ruling in the nature of a DECLARATORY DECISION as to the ... meaning, application, or effect of the Discipline or any portion thereof ... 2. The following bodies in The United Methodist Church are hereby authorized to make such petitions to the Judicial Council for declaratory decisions ... (j) any Annual Conference, on motions relating to Annual Conferences of the work therein.

Finally, the Baltimore Annual Conference has asked the Judicial Council to rule on the validity of the provisions of the proposed salary plan as these provisions may be affected by specific provisions of the Discipline. 2607.2 relied upon by the majority refers to the constitutionality of proposed legislation which may only be requested by the General Conference or the Council of Bishops. The citation by the majority is not in point. Here, the Judicial Council is asked not to determine constitutionality but rather to decide whether specific language in the plan violates specific disciplinary language.

By refusing to consider the request of the Baltimore Annual Conference, given the circumstances of this request as cited above, I believe the Judicial Council has failed to fulfill its function of service to the Church and escapes from its disciplinary responsibilities without reason or justification.

October 24, 1986

James Dolliver

I concur with this dissent. Hoover Rupert

I concur with this dissent with some reservations

Tom Matheny

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