Decision Number 135
The Acceptance by a Board of Trustees of an Annual Conference or Other Group or Organi- zation Within an Annual Conference of Title to Real Estate Which Does not Contain the Trust Clause as Contained in Paragraph 174 of the 1952 Discipline
Annual Conference Boards of Trustees or other Annual Conference organizations may legally receive title to real estate which does not contain the "trust clause" as contained in Paragraph 174 of the 1952 Discipline.
Statement of Facts
The following communication was received by the Secretary of the Judicial Council:
"Enclosed you will find motion coming from our Louisville Annual Conference dated June 3-6 pertaining to some property that had been received without the Trust Clause.
RESOLUTION OF THE LOUISVILLE CONFERENCE
"Whereas there have been many questions raised, both publicly and privately, as to the validity of the title to the Methodist House near Franklin, Kentucky, in the Louisville Conference, and whereas no satisfactory answer has yet been given,
"THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED:
"That the Louisville Annual Conference in session at Bowling Green, Kentucky, June 3-6, 1956, request the Judicial Council of The Methodist Church to give a declaratory judgment or decision as to whether a Board of Trustees or any other group or organization in an Annual Conference can legally accept title to any property which does not contain the Trust Clause as contained in Paragraph 174 of the 1952 Discipline of The Methodist Church."
Further information obtained from the Secretary of the Louisville Annual Conference indicates that title to the above mentioned property is held by the Board of Trustees of The Methodist House, a corporation of the Louisville Annual Conference.
Under Paragraph 914 (8) of the 1952 Discipline which grants an Annual Conference the right to request a declaratory decision on matters relating to Annual Conferences or the work therein, this request is properly before the Judicial Council.
Analysis and Rationale
The question before the Judicial Council is whether a Board of Trustees or any other group or organization in an Annual Conference (other than the trustees of a local church) can legally accept title to property which does not contain the trust clause as contained in Paragraph 174 of the 1952 Discipline of The Methodist Church. This inquiry arises out of concern for the manner in which title to certain property has been taken by the Trustees of The Methodist House, a corporation related to the Louisville Annual Conference. The question, therefore, does not involve a local church Board of Trustees. Paragraph 174 of the 1952 Discipline is a part of a general division of the Discipline entitled "The Local Church." Clearly this and all other provisions of this part of the Discipline are for the guidance of Trustees, Official Boards and Quarterly Conferences within the local church. Paragraph 174, therefore, could have no binding effect upon the acts of an Annual Conference Board of Trustees or other groups or organizations within the Annual Conference.
Paragraph 709 of the 1952 Discipline, sub-section 2, relating to the powers of an Annual Conference Board of Trustees, states:
"The said corporation shall receive, collect, and hold in trust for the benefit of the Annual Conference any and all donations, bequests, and devises of any kind or character, real or personal, that may be given, devised, bequeathed, or conveyed to the said board or to the Annual Conference as such for any benevolent, charitable, or religious purpose, and shall administer the same and the income therefrom in accordance with the directions of the donor, trustor, or testator, . . . under the direction of the Annual Conference ....
Since no reference is here made to the "trust clause" as set forth in Paragraph 174, further confirmation is given to the view that the said Paragraph 174 and the trust clause included therein refer solely to the acquisition of real property by the local church.
It is the decision of the Judicial Council that a Board of Trustees of an Annual Conference or any other group or organization related to an Annual Conference may legally accept title to real estate which does not contain the "Trust Clause" as set forth in Paragraph 174 of the 1952 Discipline.