Judicial Council rules on two requests from the North Alabama Conference

11/1/2012

During its Oct. 24-27, 2012, session in Elk Grove Village, Ill., the Judicial Council, the highest court of the United Methodist Church, addressed two requests made by the 2012 North Alabama Annual Conference.

North Alabama Conference Secretary Rev. Sherill Clontz reports, “The Judicial Council ruled that it did not have jurisdiction to act on either request sent to them from the North Alabama Conference this summer.

“On the request for a Declaratory Decision as to the legality of membership in the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice by agencies of The United Methodist Church, the court noted that the annual conference was not authorized to bring the matter to the Judicial Council. 

“On the request for review of a Bishop’s dismissal of a complaint against an elder, the court ruled they did not have jurisdiction in the case because the request was not seeking a decision of law. The court also noted the questions presented in the request were ‘improper and should be so ruled.’”

The first case from North Alabama was a request for a ruling from the Judicial Council as to the legality of membership in, and dues paid to, the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice by the General Board of Church and Society and by the Women’s Division of the General Board of Global Ministries. This request was brought to the North Alabama Annual Conference floor by Rev. Junior Plunkett and approved by the body of the Annual Conference.

The court ruled it had no jurisdiction in this matter because such a request brought by an annual conference must be about “matters relating to annual conferences or the work therein.”  The court ruled that this particular request “seeks a declaratory decision from the Judicial Council on a matter that involves agencies of the general church. Hence the annual conference is not authorized to bring this matter, and the Judicial Council has no jurisdiction in it.”

To read the full decision go to
http://archives.umc.org/interior_judicial.asp?mid=263&JDID=1342&JDMOD=VWD&SN=1201&EN=1229

The second case from North Alabama was a request to review the actions of Bishop William H. Willimon in dismissing a complaint brought by members of the Church of the Reconciler against District Superintendent Ron Schultz.

In its ruling, the court explained: “All of the questions presented in the briefs addressed the supervisory function of the district superintendent and the bishop. None of this was properly before the Annual Conference.”

The court added, “These questions are improper and should be so ruled and do not require a substantive answer. The review of the Bishop’s dismissal of the complaint would be an administrative decision, not a decision of law. The Judicial Council has no jurisdiction in the matter, because the questions presented were moot.”

To read the full decision go to
http://archives.umc.org/interior_judicial.asp?mid=263&JDID=1345&JDMOD=VWD&SN=1201&EN=1229


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