Memorandum Number 623


October 26, 1989

Ruling by Bishop William Boyd Grove Regarding Mandatory Categories of Membership for Annual Conference Agencies.


During the 1989 Session of the West Virginia Annual Conference, Bishop William Boyd Grove was asked to give an episcopal ruling on the issue of mandatory categories of membership with annual conference agencies. The specific question was: "Is it within the parameters of the Constitution of theUnited Methodist Church for the Annual Conference to structure into its organization mandatory categories of membership on its agencies?"

Bishop Grove ruled:

As the Constitution has authority not only over provision (sic) of the Book of Discipline but also over all other United Methodist church law, it is clear that an Annual Conference may not legislate rules that require racial, gender or other status categories in the membership of its agencies. Thus all references in the Plan of Conference Structure or in the Standing Rules of the Annual Conference to required status categories are unconstitutional and are hereby set aside. This Decision of Law does not affect the incumbency of persons elected at the beginning of the present quadrennium as Decisions of Law by bishops or the Judicial Council are not retroactive and the Judicial Council has stated clearly in Decision 601 that the mandate of the Decision will not become effective until the election of general program boards for the 1993-96 quadrennium. However, in the West Virginia Annual Conference elections to fill vacancies during the present quadrennium shall not be bound by the mandatory status categories. It should be noted that the Judicial Council ruled in Decision 601 that recommendations for status categories are not unconstitutional. It is my ruling that the West Virginia Annual Conference is free to adopt such recommendations so long as they are not requirements.

The ruling of Bishop Grove is affirmed.

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