“Friends at issue is who gets the final say in who is or is not ordained. Is it the church law in the Book of Discipline? Or is it the vote of an Annual Conference, as it decides how to apply that church law in specific cases? In 1984 General Conference added to the Discipline language stipulating that (quote) “self-avowed practicing homosexuals are not to be certified as candidates, ordained as ministers or appointed to serve.”
The Judicial Council ruled in Decision 544 that this act was constitutional under the powers granted to General Conference in paragraph 16. And yet, in our constitution, in paragraph 33 says clearly that the Annual Conference (and I would emphasize not General Conference) is the basic body of the church and as such shall have reserved to it the right to vote on all matters relating to the character and the conference relations of its clergy members.
And, on the ordination of clergy: The constitution states that General Conference can define and fix the powers of ordained clergy to set their roles and job description, and the minimum standards of ordination according to Judicial Council decision 544. But, the power to decide how to apply those standards is clearly vested in the reserve right of the Annual Conference in paragraph 33, and that right has been affirmed by Judicial Council decision 542.
The final of vote of the Annual Conference determines who is and is not ordained and who is or does not remain ordained (period.) Bishop, I submit that there is a basic separation of constitutional power here, that Judicial Council must resolve and that has profound implications for the current divisions of our church.
Neither General Conference nor the Judicial Council nor any other body can infringe upon or overrule the constitutional right of the Annual Conference regarding clergy character, relations, and ordination—the Annual Conference vote is the final word.
I thank God that our forefathers and mothers anticipated that there might come a time when General Conference and Annual Conferences might be in conflict over the application of the Discipline over issues of ordination so they put language in the constitution to guide us, and they entrusted to the local determination of the Annual Conferences.
Therefore I move we petition Judicial Council on this decision, on a one-fifths vote.”
This motion passed with Yes-490, No-308 note.