Decision Number 146
The Publication of Names and Addresses of Local Church Lay Leaders in the Journals of Annual Conferences
Paragraph 362, Section 10 of the 1956 Discipline is not in violation of the Constitution of The Methodist Church and its provisions for the publication of the names of Local Church Lay Leaders in the Journals of Annual Conferences is mandatory.
Statement of Facts
Under date of June 24, 1957, the secretary of the Judicial Council received from J. Henry Cox, secretary of the Illinois Conference, the following resolution:
"WHEREAS Paragraph 362.10, Methodist Discipline of 1956, defining in part the duties of the district superintendents, states, 'To report the names of the church lay leaders in his district to the secretary of the Annual Conference for insertion in the conference journal; etc.' and
"WHEREAS local church lay leaders are officers of the local church and are not members of the Annual Conference, and
"WHEREAS other local church officers, names and addresses are not printed in the Conference Journal, and
"WHEREAS to establish such a precedent opens the way for insertion in the Annual Conference Journal of other local church officers, and
"WHEREAS such insertion in the printed records of the Annual Conference could become voluminous and expensive, therefore
"BE IT RESOLVED that the Illinois Conference of The Methodist Church request from the Judicial Council of The Methodist Church an interpretation or ruling, first, as to the constitutionality of such legislation on the part of the General Conference of The Methodist Church, and secondly, if such legislation is constitutional is the insertion of such a list of local church officers mandatory, or is it to be regarded as optional on the part of the person or persons charged with responsibility for publishing the Annual Conference Journal.
The Publishing Commission of the Illinois Conference of The Methodist Church. /s/ J. Dewey Muir, Chairman /s/ J. Henry Cox, Secretary"
The Judicial Council takes jurisdiction of the question herein presented under Paragraph 914, Section 8 of the 1956 Discipline.
Analysis and Rationale
Paragraph 362, Section 10 of the Methodist Discipline of 1956 was adopted by the General Conference of 1956 and includes within it the duties of the district superintendent as related to the reporting of certain names to the various agencies and boards of the church which require them. The concern of the Illinois Conference is specifically with the first requirement of this paragraph,
"To report the names and addresses of the church lay leaders in his district to the secretary of the Annual Conference for insertion in the conference journal."
The Illinois Conference requests the Judicial Council to determine whether or not the General Conference possesses the constitutional right to adopt such legislation and if it does, to render a Declaratory Decision determining whether this provision is permissive or mandatory upon an Annual Conference.
The Constitution of The Methodist Church in Paragraph 22 of the Discipline of 1956 which is Section VII, Article II of the Constitution reserves to the Annual Conference certain rights and privileges but none of which would include the matter now before us. The article concludes,
"It shall discharge such duties and exercise such powers as the General Conference under the Constitution may determine."
The Constitution under Paragraph 8, which is Section I, Article IV, grants to the General Conference the power "to define and fix the powers and duties of Annual Conferences." There is no question, therefore, in the opinion of the Judicial Council that the General Conference was within its constitutional authority in enacting the legislation contained in the paragraph under question.
We take it that the principal concern of the Illinois Conference is in the second part of its query,
"If such legislation is constitutional, is the insertion of such a list of local church officers mandatory or is it to be regarded as optional on the part of the person or persons charged with the responsibility for publishing the Annual Conference Journal?"
Reference to the Daily Christian Advocate of the General Conference of 1956 reveals that the legislation under question was proposed by the Committee on Lay Activities in their report No. 5, page 189, Daily Christian Advocate, which reads as follows:
"The district superintendent shall secure the name and address of the church lay leader (s) and he shall present the name and address to the secretary of the Annual Conference at the meeting of the Annual Conference and this list shall be printed in Annual Conference Journal by the Annual Conference secretary. /s/ Ray H. Nichols, Chairman /s/ T. Russell Reitz, Secretary"
This report unanimously adopted by the Committee, and entered upon the calendar of the General Conference, would indicate the original intent of this legislation as being a mandatory provision.
Page 517 of the Daily Christian Advocate reveals the fact that because of some misunderstanding as to where this provision should be placed, the report was withdrawn by Ray H. Nichols, chairman of the Committee on Lay Activities, with the consent of the General Conference. On page 518, however, consideration of this report is renewed following a question addressed to the chairman of the Committee on Lay Activities,
"Mr. Nichols, I should like to know if in report No. 5 the withdrawing of that report means that we are not requesting the publication of the names and addresses of church lay leaders in Conference journals?"
To this question Mr. Nichols replied for the committee, "No, it does not mean that."
Following this, Murray H. Leiffer, chairman of the Committee on Correlation and Editorial Revision, made the following statement,
"There are two legislative recommendations which request the district superintendent to report names and addresses of certain persons. This particular report, and also report 27 from the Committee on the Ministry. Since two of the proposed actions make the superintendent responsible, the Committee on Correlation proposes that these directives become part of one inclusive statement and that this be placed under Paragraph 362 in the Discipline. You may recall that 362 lists all the duties of the district superintendent. We, therefore, propose this as an action to cover both reports."
On page 624 of the Daily Christian Advocate, column 1, we find that Murray H. Leiffer presented report No. 1 of the Committee on Correlation and Editorial Revision, which report was adopted by the General Conference and became a part of the Discipline of 1956, Paragraph 362, Section 10 and includes the provision which is being questioned by the Illinois Conference. In his presentation of the report, Dr. Leiffer said,
"The action recommended here under Report No. 1 has the full approval of both chairmen who are also on the platform this morning."
Since the legislation contained in Paragraph 362 originated in a report of the Committee on Lay Activities, the language of which was clearly mandatory, and, since there is no evidence in the Daily Christian Advocate of any amendment or desire to change the original intent of the report and, since the Committee on Correlation and Editorial Revision of which Mr. Leiffer was Chairman, is not a legislative committee and is, therefore, not empowered to change the meaning of any legislation or proposed legislation it seems clear, and the Judicial Council so holds, that the intent of the General Conference in adopting this legislation was to adopt the original intention of the Committee on Lay Activities which would make mandatory the printing of the names and addresses of church lay leaders in the journal of the Annual Conference.
It is the decision of the Judicial Council that the publication of names and addresses of Local Church Lay Leaders as directed by the 1956 General Conference in Paragraph 362, Section 10 of the 1956 Discipline is constitutional. It is the further decision of the Judicial Council that the insertion of such names in the Annual Conference Journal is mandatory upon the Annual Conference.
L. A. Welliver, A. Wesley Pugh and J. Russell Throckmorton concur in this Decision on the grounds noted in the Concurring Opinion to Decision No. 145.