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Judicial Review of who can vote for GC delegates

By Bill Kemp
Early in 2011, the Judicial council ruled on par. 35 of the Constitution as amended in 2008.
UMRF, along with the National Fellowship of Associate Members and Local Pastors and (NFAM&LP), worked hard at the 2008 General Conference in Fort Worth to enlarge the number of clergypersons permitted to vote for GC delegates. We were successful (with some compromising) in revising Discipline - par. 35 of the Constitution to read as follows:

The clergy delegates to the General Conference and to the jurisdictional or central conference shall be elected from the clergy members in full connection and shall be elected by the clergy members of the annual conference or provisional annual conference who are deacons and elders in full connection, associate members, and those provisional members who have completed all of their educational requirements and local pastors who have completed course of study or an M. Div. degree and have served a minimum of two consecutive years under appointment immediately preceding the election.

The following questions were raised that required Judicial Council ruling:

1. How is the phrase "two consecutive years under appointment" to be interpreted? For example, is this a 24-month requirement or a requirement for two conference years as commonly applied?
2. To whom does the requirement of "two consecutive years under appointment" refer? For example, does this apply to provisional [member]s as well as both full-time and part-time local pastors?
3. By what date do educational requirements have to be met?

The Judicial Council requested guidance from UMRF on the intent of our legislation. Roger Grace provided the a clear response (which can be downloaded: Brief-par35 ).

In brief, the Judicial Council ruled:

To become an eligible elector, a local pastor (a) must have met the educational requirement and (b) must have satisfied the appointment requirement which mandates (i) that the person "be listed in the journal as eligible to be appointed as local pastors" ( 318), and (ii) that the person has "served" an appointment fixed by the bishop for two consecutive conference years as that term is commonly applied.

To read the full ruling and rational see Judicial Decision 1181.

from http://archives.umc.org
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