LAY DELEGATES

THE JUDICIAL COUNCIL OF

THE AFRICAN METHODIST EPISCOPAL ZION CHURCH

IN THE MATTER OF

THE PETITION OF EDDIE H. RAY

DECISION No. 1992-005

This matter comes before the Council by letter which has been determined by the Council to be a Petition for a declaratory judgment by Mr. Eddie H. Ray, member in Good standing of The A.M.E. Zion Church.

 

ARTICLE II - JURISDICTION[1]

 

B. The Judicial Council shall have original jurisdiction, since decisions are final in the interim of the General Conference.

 

ARTICLE III - DUTIES[2]

 

2.  To hear and make the declaratory judgments when petitioned to do so when any law is subject to more than one interpretation or any paragraph in the Book of Discipline is of doubtful meaning. Any person in good and regular standing in The A.M.E. Zion Church can petition the Judicial Council for such a judgment. The Council’s decision is final unless revised or reversed by the general Conference.

 

FACTS OF THE CASE

 

No testimony was presented to The Council. No hearing requested, as none is needed.

 

QUESTIONS TO BE DECIDED[3]

 

The Petition presented two questions to the Council: 

(1) Are Lay Delegates the only Laypersons that are lawful members of an Annual Conference meeting?

(2)  How can a Layperson become a member of and be seated within the bar of the Annual Conference meeting?

 

DECISION

 

The question presented involved several sections of the Discipline:

 

Paragraph 98

The Annual Conference shall be composed of a Bishop and all the Traveling Ministers and Preachers, those in Full Connection and those on trial within the bounds of the Conference, and such Lay Delegates as may have been legally elected to that body.

 

Paragraph 107

The rights and privileges of the Laity are permanently and effectuality secured through Representation in legislating for the better of government of the Church; therefore each station and each circuit shall have the privilege of sending a Lay Delegate in the Annual Conference.  All such delegates shall be elected by the Quarterly Conference or the members of the circuit or station, which they represent, shall be entitled to a seat in the Conference upon the showing of their Credentials, properly authenticated by the Offices of the meeting in which they were elected.  Their privilege shall be restricted to making known to the body the wants and wishes of the various charges in which they were elected.

 

Paragraph 108

Nevertheless, the District Conference, which immediately precedes the meeting of the Annual Conference may elect not more than three delegates to represent the Laity of the District in the next Annual Conference, and the Delegates so chosen shall be entitled to all the rights and privileges of the other members of the Annual Conference, provided however, that the year immediately preceding the General Conference, each circuit and station shall send Delegates to the Annual Conference. This year, the District Conference shall not send District Delegate to the Annual Conference. The expense of all such Delegates to the Annual Conference shall be freed by the society or societies from which they come.

 

Paragraph 109

Where there is no District Conference the Lay Delegates present at any session of the Annual Conference shall have the right to elect on the first day of the session, from their own number, as Delegates to represent them, a number of representatives equal to one fourth of all this circuit and stations included in the Conference District; with representatives shall be entitled to all the rights and privileges of other members of the Annual Conference.  No one shall be elected a Lay Delegate to the Annual Conference who does not promise to remain until the close, unless excused by the Conference.

 

The African Methodist Episcopal Zion Book of Discipline affirms the right of a Layperson to be a lawful number of an Annual Conference meeting providing they are elected at that Annual Conference Meeting.   A Layperson may be selected by one of these three methods, (A) elected by the Quarterly Conference or members of the circuit or station they represent, (b) by a District Conference immediately preceding the meeting of the Annual Conference, with the exception of the years immediately preceding the General Conference and (c) at an Annual Conference where there is no District Conference.

 

Paragraph 109 does not repeat the restrictions found in paragraph 108, i.e., “… the year immediately preceding the General Conference, each circuit and station shall send Delegates to the Annual Conference.  This year, the District Conference shall not send District Delegates to the Annual Conference.”  Paragraph 109 provides for Lay representation to Annual Conference from the District Conference. It is reasonable to accept the position from the restriction imposed in paragraph 108, it is the intent of our rules, to not extend Lay Delegate privileges to Layperson elected to the Annual Conference from the District Conference, the year preceding the General Conference, Therefore, the restriction imposed in paragraph 108, shall be applied to Lay Delegates elected under the rules of paragraph 109.

 

A layperson must be an elected Lay Delegate to an Annual Conference Meeting to have the privilege of being seated within the bar of and Annual Conference Meeting.

 

BY ORDER OF THE JUDICIAL COUNCIL. THIS 31ST DAY OF DECEMBER 1992.

 

ALL CONCURRING

San Francisco, CA 94118

 

 Thursday, January 28, 1993—The Star of Zion-page 5

 

[1] Originally cited incorrectly as Article I.

[2] Originally cited incorrectly as Article VI.

[3]   Paragraph title :Question Presented“ was not in the original document.

< Back to Index