Decision Number 120
Validity of the Election of Fred B. Noble, Member of the Judicial Council as a Delegate to the 1956 Jurisdictional Conference of the Southeastern Jurisdiction of The Methodist Church
Fred B. Noble being automatically retired from membership upon the Judicial Council at the 1956 General Conference, he would be in all respects eligible to serve as a Delegate to the 1956 Jurisdictional Conference of the Southeastern Jurisdiction of The Methodist Church, which meets after the 1956 General Conference closes. The time of his election as such a Delegate is immaterial, his eligibility to serve as such Delegate at the time the Jurisdictional Conference meets being the determining factor as to the validity of his election.
Question Submitted for Declaratory Decision
July 13, 1955
"Roy H. Short Resident Bishop
"To The Judicial Council of The Methodist Church M.A. Childers, President J. Ernest Wilkins, Secretary
"At the recent session of the Florida Conference Mr. Fred B. Noble, who is a member of the Judicial Council, received a large number of votes on the first ballot as a Delegate to the General Conference. He immediately stated to the Lay Delegates that he was a member of the Judicial Council and would not be eligible for election to the General Conference. Later, in the balloting for election of Delegates to the Jurisdictional Conference, it was assumed that Mr. Noble could serve as a Delegate to the Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference which will be meeting in July, 1956, at which time he will have already retired as a member of the Judicial Council.
"Mr. Noble was, therefore, elected as a Delegate to the Jurisdictional Conference. Bishop Branscomb was later contacted by the Secretary of the General Conference relative to Mr. Noble's eligibility to be so selected.
"In order that such eligibility may be tested, and at the request of Bishop Branscomb, the College of Bishops of the Southeastern Jurisdiction respectfully requests of the Judicial Council a Declaratory Decision as to whether or not, under Paragraphs 502, 524, and 902 of the Discipline, a member of Judicial Council retiring at a General Conference is eligible for election to the Jurisdictional Conference following his retirement.
"Very truly yours, "Roy H. Short /s/ "Roy H. Short, Secretary of the College of Bishops of the South- eastern Jurisdiction.
Statement of Facts
The Florida Annual Conference of The Methodist Church, at its 1955 session held at Lakeland, Florida, elected Fred B. Noble (Now a member of the Judicial Council) as a Delegate to the 1956 Jurisdictional Conference of the Southeastern Jurisdiction of The Methodist Church. The validity of such election having been questioned, the Bishops of the Southeastern Jurisdiction of The Methodist Church certified the question to the Judicial Council for a Declaratory Decision, as set out in the certificate from the Secretary of the College of Bishops of the Southeastern Jurisdiction (July 13, 1955). The Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference will meet in July, 1956 after the 1956 General Conference has adjourned. Fred B. Noble is now seventy (70) years of age. (July 29, 1955.)
The question submitted for Declaratory Decision being one "relating to or affecting" the Southeastern Jurisdiction of The Methodist Church, "or the work therein," the Judicial Council has jurisdiction to hear and determine same under subdivision (3) of Paragraph 914 of the 1952 Discipline.
Analysis and Rationale
The only Paragraph in the 1952 Discipline disqualifying members of the Judicial Council for membership in a Jurisdictional Conference is Paragraph 902, which reads as follows:
"Par. 902. Members of the Council shall be ineligible for membership in the General Conference or Jurisdictional Conference or in any General or Jurisdictional Board or for administrative service in any connectional office."
Fred B. Noble, being now seventy - (70) years of age, will not be a member of the Judicial Council at the time of the 1956 Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference. Art. 1 of Par. 901 of the 1952 Discipline specifically provides as follows:
"Provided, however, that a member of the Council whose seventieth birthday precedes the first day of the regular session of a General Conference shall be released at the close of that General Conference from membership or responsibility in the Council Regardless of the date of expiration of his term of office."
It will be noted that Par. 902, making members of the Judicial Council ineligible for membership in the Jurisdictional Conference, does not say that a member of the judicial Council is ineligible for election as a member of the Jurisdictional Conference while he is still a member of the Judicial Council. The only prohibition is that a member of the Judicial Council cannot at the same time be a member of the Jurisdictional Conference. The term for the 1956 Jurisdictional Conference begins after the 1956 General Conference closes (Par. 14, 1952 Discipline), and after Fred B. Noble has been "released from membership or responsibility in the Council." Any Jurisdictional Conference held prior to the 1956 General Conference would be a called session of the 1952 Jurisdictional Conference, to membership in which Fred B. Noble has not been elected.
Since at the time the 1956 Jurisdictional Conference of the Southeastern Jurisdiction meets ("within the twelve months succeeding the meeting of the General Conference" of 1956) Fred B. Noble will be eligible for membership therein, the time of his election thereto is immaterial, since such election would not be to a position to which he would be ineligible at the time of service therein.
It is therefore the Decision of the Judicial Council that, since Fred B.
Noble will not be a member of the Judicial Council when the 1956 session of the Jurisdictional Conference of the Southeastern Jurisdiction of The Methodist Church convenes, his election to membership in such Jurisdictional Conference by the 1955 session of the Florida Annual Conference of The Methodist Church is in all respects valid.
NOTE: Fred B. Noble voluntarily refrained from participating in the discussion in connection with this matter and from voting on the decision.
Saturday, July 30, 1955.