Decision Number 178
The Right of a Conference Board of Missions (and Church Extension) to Purchase and Hold Property
A Board of Missions (and Church Extension) of an Annual Conference of The Methodist Church may purchase and hold property.
Statement of Facts
At the June, 1960, session of the Oregon Annual Conference of The Methodist Church there was a discussion as to the right of the Conference Board of Missions and Church Extension to purchase and hold property. It was contended upon behalf of the Board of Trustees of the Conference that it was the only body in the Annual Conference "allowed to hold property." Thereupon, the Conference petitioned the Judicial Council to determine "the right of the (Annual Conference) Board of Missions to hold property. . . ." The record before us discloses that the Board of Missions and Church Extension of the Oregon Annual Conference of The Methodist Church is a registered corporation.
We construe the request that comes to us from the Oregon Annual Conference as a petition for a declaratory decision on the question as to whether or not the incorporated Board of Missions and Church Extension of the Oregon Annual Conference may purchase and hold property. We have jurisdiction to receive this petition and render a decision thereupon under Paragraph 914, Section 8, of the 1960 Discipline.
Analysis and Rationale
Paragraphs 1295-1307 of the 1960 Discipline provide for Annual Conference Boards of Missions, outline the duties of such Boards and state in general fashion the powers of such Boards.
It is evident from the disciplinary provisions that the Board of Missions of an Annual Conference is a creature of the Conference and therefore subject to it. "The work of the board shall be subject to the approval of the Annual Conference." (Paragraph 1303 (2) of the 1960 Discipline.)
Such boards have the right, among other things, to administer such funds as come into their possession for church extension and to lend or donate any part thereof. These broad grants of power strongly imply, if they do not specifically grant to such boards the right to receive and hold property, whether that property be real, personal, or intangible.
We do not believe that the disciplinary provisions providing for Annual Conference Boards of Trustees require that all property owned by an Annual Conference or by any of its boards or agencies must be titled in the name of such Board of Trustees. As a matter of fact the section of the Discipline providing for Boards of Trustees of Annual Conferences appears to recognize that other conference agencies may hold property for it provides that "said corporation shall receive, collect and hold in trust for the benefit of the Annual Conference any and all donations . . . that may be given, devised, bequeathed or conveyed to the said board or to the Annual Conference as such . . ." (Emphasis added.) Paragraph 711 (2) of the 1960 Discipline. It is not provided that gifts, donations, etc., made to the other boards and agencies of the Annual Conference shall be handled by or taken in the name of the Board of Trustees of the Annual Conference.
It is, therefore, our decision that an Annual Conference Board of Missions, or an Annual Conference Board of Missions and Church Extension, may own property and take title thereto in its own name, if incorporated, and if not incorporated, in the name of trustees elected by it.