Legislation setting special provisions for United Methodist churches deciding to leave the denomination took effect immediately at the end of the special General Conference last February, the church’s top court has ruled.
In making that determination, the United Methodist Judicial Council at least temporarily bypassed the assertion from a Commission on General Conference investigation that improper voting meant the vote to substitute parts of Petition 90066, the disaffiliation petition, was null and void.
The court decided to hold the request submitted by the Council of Bishops on the question of improper voting to its next session. In Decision 1386, the Judicial Council noted that “because of our inability to get the information requested during oral argument” it would be best to re-schedule the case.
On a related matter, the Judicial Council issued no opinion on the “constitutionality, meaning, application or effect” of certain petitions of the Traditional Plan, also adopted in February.
“The votes of the council members were insufficient to declare unconstitutional any of the provisions before us,” the court said in Memorandum 1390. At least six of the nine members of Judicial Council must agree in a vote on constitutional issues.
“Our rulings on the constitutionality, meaning, application or effect of the various provisions will await the specific facts of applications of these provisions in cases to come before the council after January 1, 2020,” the court said, referring to the request from the Council of Bishops for clarity on five questions related to the Traditional Plan.
This decision and other rulings were released after the close of the court's Oct. 29-Nov.1 meeting, which included two Oct. 30 oral hearings. Warren Plowden, first lay alternate, participated in the meeting because Judicial Council member Lidia Romao Gulele was unable to attend.
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