Decision Number 355
Supplement to Decision No. 350 Relating to the Questions Involved in the Plan of Union of the Methodist Church in Southern Asia.
Following the publication of Judicial Council Decision No. 350 in the Daily Christian Advocate of April 19, 1972, the Commission on Church Union and Structure of Methodism of the Methodist Church in Southern Asia-which includes all of the Indian bishops in effective relation-prepared a letter addressed to the Judicial Council. Bishop R. D. Joshi, chairman of the commission, writes in part:
"There are already varying interpretations of the Decision being given. Would you [the Judicial Council] help us clarify the following points:
"l) In the last but one paragraph of the Decision the words as revised are used. The sentence reads: 'The Authorization given by the General Conference of . . . 1968 to unite with other churches in the Church of North India under the terms of Plan Four as revised . . .'
"Do these words mean the original Fourth Edition Plan of Church Union or that plan as may be revised by mutual agreement between the MCSA and the CNI ...
"2) What is the exact implication of the closing words, viz., 'We return the matter to the Central Conference of the Church of Southern Asia for such implementing action as it may deem appropriate.' (the italics are ours) "What exactly is the matter which is returned to the Central Conference? Is it the appeal of the appellants or the whole issue of Church Union?
"What is the implementing action envisaged by the Judicial Council? Does it imply the rescinding of the adverse vote taken by the Extra Session of the Central Conference ?
"Does it further imply that there are no other options open for the MCSA except to unite with the Church of North India, even if it be on their own terms and conditions ? As you can see, the option to unite with the Church of North India cannot be exercised by the MCSA alone. The CNI will also have to exercise that option and show readiness to negotiate union with the MCSA on mutually agreed bases within the framework of the Fourth Plan. They have of course shown such readiness but I am raising this question in case we come across any difficulty.
"Of course the words in your Decision as it may deem appropriate do clarify this point. The question still needs to be clarified whether this is optional or mandatory.
"3) The 1968 General Conference authorized us through an enabling act to join the Union on the basis of the Fourth Plan. If as a result of negotiation and mutual agreement some substantial modifications are made in the Plan, would the enabling act be still valid as a sufficient basis for union of the CNI and MCSA?"
The Judicial Council in its Decision No. 350 sought to answer specifically the central issue raised in the original petition. However, it has studied with care the communication from the Commission on Church Union and a supplemental letter from Bishop R. D. Joshi, under date of April 22, 1972, addressed to the President of the Judicial Council. In view of our Decision No. 350 we make the following response to the above questions:
1) The words "as revised," in the sentence which is quoted in the letter, refer to the revision processes which led up to the Fourth Plan of Union. They do not refer to or call for a reopening and revising of the Fourth Plan.
2) This series of questions calls forth a two-part response:
(a) All of the steps necessary for ratification of the Plan of Union have been taken. The situation is precisely where it was on December 17, 1969. The essential remaining actions are those which were enumerated under item "5" in the resolution on the Fourth Plan adopted by the Central Conference at its regular session, December 30, 1968 through January 5, 1969.
(b) The final effecting of union of the Methodist Church in Southern Asia with the Church of North India will obviously involve the working out of numerous details, as was envisioned in the constitutional actions taken prior to December 17, 1969. This task must be done in concert with the newly organized Church of North India. "The immediate implementing action" is to enter into consultations with the Church of North India and complete action on the remaining details for the consummation of the union which was voted.
3) The enabling act of the 1968 General Conference was and continues to be valid. No further action by the General Conference is necessary nor would it be legal since the authority given by it to the Methodist Church in Southern Asia was exercised affirmatively by that body.
The Fourth Edition Plan of Church Union has been ratified by the Central Conference and the Annual Conferences of the Methodist Church in Southern Asia. No further vote may be taken except to implement the Plan of Church Union which has been adopted.