Decision Number 377
Request of the Board of Higher Education and Ministry for a Declaratory Decision as to the Meaning of Paragraph 803.2 of the 1972 Discipline. Specifically Whether There Must be Two Members of the Ethnic Groups Listed in Paragraph 803.2 in the At-Large-Members in Addition to Ethnic Representation Who Have Been Chosen as Basic Members.
Paragraph 803.2 recommends guidelines for perfecting a representative body. The guidelines are advisory, not mandatory.
Statement of Facts
The Board of Higher Education and Ministry in affirming the report of the Executive Committee has petitioned the Judicial Council as to the meaning of Paragraph 803.2 and specifically whether in electing its at-large membership it is in compliance with the Administrative Order of The United Methodist Church.
The election of members to the Board of Higher Education and Ministry by the five jurisdictions of laymen, laywomen and at-large members, together with episcopal members produced a representative composition as follows:
10 Episcopal Members 60 Basic Members 25 At-Large Members __ 95 Total
The 95 members include: 4 Hispanic Americans 13 Blacks 3 Asian Americans 13 Former Evangelical United Brethren 4 Under age 18 5 Age 19-24 9 Age 25-34
However, the at-large members elected by the board from the five jurisdictions resulted in only one member of an ethnic group named in Paragraph 803.2. For this reason the executive committee of the board recommended the petition to the Judicial Council for declaratory decision.
The Judicial Council has jurisdiction under Paragraph 1515.
Analysis and Rationale
The Judicial Council is asked specifically whether the action of the Board of Higher Education and Ministry in completing its at-large membership, was in compliance with the administrative order of The United Methodist Church.
Paragraph 803 of the Discipline states in part:
"The voting membership of the program boards shall be composed of these categories: basic, at-large, and episcopal.
"1. Basic membership of the program boards shall be nominated by the Annual Conferences and elected by the Jurisdictional Conferences. Each jurisdiction shall elect twelve persons for membership: four laymen, four laywomen, and four clergy in full connection. Each jurisdiction shall be responsible for observance of Paragraph 21, Article VII.
"2. At-large membership shall be elected by a board in order to perfect the representation of ethnic minorities, youth, and young adults, and to bring into the board special knowledge or background.... Among the at-large members of each board, it is recommended that there be no less than two of each of the following: Asian Americans, Blacks, Hispanic Americans, and Indian Americans.
"a) There shall not be less than ten nor more than twenty-five at-large members.
"b) Each jurisdiction shall designate two of the twelve it has elected as basic members of the board to serve on the committee to nominate the at-large members. This committee shall be responsible for the observance of Paragraph 21, Article VII."
A program board organized under Paragraph 803 is required to establish a voting membership of three categories: basic, at-large, and episcopal. Thetotal membership should be representative of ethnic minorities, youth and young adults, and adults.
The intent of Paragraph 803.2 is to recommend guidelines for perfecting a representative body and these guidelines are not mandatory. The at-large members to be selected must be selected on the basis of their qualifications as persons and their competency in order to perfect representation and to bring into the board special knowledge and background.
In Decisions 4 and 5 of the Interim Judicial Council the distinction was established between advisory and mandatory legislation to foster a racially inclusive church. The provisions of Paragraph 803.2 recommending a number of ethnic representatives to be at-large members is advisory only.
We hold that the Board of Higher Education and Ministry has complied with the requirements of Paragraph 803.2 in the representative composition of its total voting membership.