Decision Number 200
Request of the Commission on Entertainment and Program of The 1964 General Conference for an Opinion as to Whether or not the Tenure Rule in Paragraph 1104 is Applicable to this Commission
The provisions of Paragraph 1104 of the 1960 Discipline do not apply to the Commission on Entertainment and Program of the General Conference.
Statement of Facts
A letter, dated September 6, 1963, addressed to the President of the Judicial Council, stated in part, the following:
"The writer, as secretary of the Commission on Entertainment and Program of the 1964 General Conference, has been instructed by the Commission to address a request for an opinion from the Judicial Council on a question of prime importance to our Commission. Before I state the question may I be permitted to give some background information.
"1. When the restrictions of Paragraph 1102 were adopted in 1952 it was determined that membership on our particular Commission would not prohibit a person from serving on a Board or other agency of The Methodist Church. This, I believe, was because our Commission was considered to be merely an administrative committee of the General Conference and not a disciplinary agency of the Church as referred to in the legislation. Since our Commission has not come under the restrictions of the Discipline imposed by Paragraph 1102 most of the members of our Commission are also members of some regular board or agency of the Church.
"2. The Commission on Entertainment and Program of the General Conference is not provided for in the Discipline. As a matter of fact there is no mention of the Commission in the Discipline. It is constituted by a rule in the 'Plan of Organization and Rules of Order of the General Conference.'
"3. Because of the very specialized work which the Commission is called upon to do in selecting the site and making the arrangements for a General Conference session, turnover in the personnel of the Commission is disastrous. Some replacements each quadrennium are inevitable but it is greatly to the advantage of our Commission that turnover of personnel be kept to an absolute minimum.
"In view of the facts which we have tried to present, our request is for the opinion of your honorable Council whether or not the tenure rule in Paragraph 1104 is applicable to the membership of our particular Commission.
Yours very truly,
J. Wesley Hole, Secretary"
The Judicial Council, under Paragraph 914.2 of the 1960 Discipline, takes jurisdiction in this case.
Analysis and Rationale
Paragraph 1104 of the 1960 Discipline provides:
"Tenure on any division, board, commission, or council, except the Council of Bishops and the Judicial Council, shall be limited to twelve consecutive years; provided, however, that this limitation shall take effect from the General Conference of 1952 and shall not be retroactive."
This paragraph is in Part VII of the 1960 Discipline which deals with "Administrative Agencies" of The Methodist Church. The question before us is whether this paragraph can be held to apply to the Commission on Entertainment and Program of the General Conference.
Paragraph 8.8, 1960 Discipline, which is a part of the Constitution, directs the General Conference:
"To initiate and to direct all connectional enterprises of the church, such as publishing, evangelistic, educational, missionary, and benevolent, and to provide boards for their promotion and administration."
The General Provisions of Chapter 1, Part VII, 1960 Discipline, in which context Paragraph 1104 appears, are intended to apply only to the general agencies of The Methodist Church established by the General Conference for the purpose of directing the "connectional enterprises of the church."
The Commission on Entertainment and Program of the General Conference is not provided for in the Discipline. It is constituted by a rule in the "Plan of Organization and Rules of Order of the General Conference," under the authority of Paragraph 508, 1960 Discipline, which reads as follows:
"The plan of organization and rules of order of the General Conference shall be the plan of organization and rules of order as published in the journal of the preceding General Conference until they have been altered or modified by the action of the General Conference." Section V of the Plan of Organization of the General Conference, as amended by the 1960 session of the General Conference, states in part:
"There shall be a Commission on Entertainment and Program of the General Conference composed of one minister and one layman from each Jurisdiction who shall be nominated by the Council of Bishops and elected by the General Conference for a term of eight years; provided that at the 1960 General Conference one-half of the members shall be elected for a term of four years so that thereafter the General Conference shall elect one-half of the members each quadrennium for a term of eight years."
Thus it appears quite clear that the Commission on Entertainment and Program of the General Conference is a particular body created by the General Conference for the purpose of arranging for the program and entertainment of said conference, responsible only to said conference, and in no sense can be construed as an administrative agency responsible for any aspect of the connectional work of the church. It follows, therefore, that this commission cannot be interpreted as an "administrative agency" of the church as defined in Paragraph 1104.
It is therefore the decision of the Judicial Council that Paragraph 1104 of the 1960 Discipline is not applicable to the membership of the Commission on Entertainment and Program of the 1964 General Conference.