ADJOURNMENT OF GENERAL CONFERENCE
THE JUDICIAL COUNCIL OF
THE AFRICAN METHODIST EPISCOPAL ZION CHURCH
IN THE MATTER OF
THE PETITION OF LEWIS M. ANTHONY
DECISION No. 2005-021
This case comes before the Council by petition for declaratory judgment filed by the Reverend Dr. Lewis M. Anthony, a member in good standing in The A.M.E. Zion Church.
ARTICLE I – JURISDICTION
The Judicial Council shall not have original jurisdiction, since decisions are declaratory and final in the interim of the General Conference.
ARTICLE II – DUTIES
To hear and make 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
The Presiding Officer at the conclusion of the Seventh day of the 47th General Conference announced without a motion that the General Conference was adjourned.
QUESTIONS TO BE DECIDED
1. Is any Bishop of The African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church presiding in the General Conference pursuant to part III, Chapter I, paragraph 126 of the 2000 book of discipline and the adopted parliamentary authority, Robert's Rules of Order 10th Edition, authorized or empowered to adjourn the General Conference?
2. What is the legal effect under civil and ecclesiastical law upon the pending business, election and legislative enactment of the 2004 General Conference, if the General Conference was improperly adjourned?
Paragraph 125 of The Discipline of the A.M.E. Zion Church, (2000) reads: "The 46th Quadrennial Session of the General Conference directs that beginning with the 47th session, the General Conference shall meet every 4 years for 7 days commencing on the 4th Wednesday in July."
Roberts Rules of Order, 10th Edition Pg. 232, ¶ 30 states:
WHERE THE ASSEMBLY CAN ADJOURN WITHOUT A MOTION.
If an hour for adjourning a meeting within a convention or other session or more than one meeting has been prescheduled -- either in an agenda or program or by the adoption of a motion setting a time -- no motion to adjourn is necessary when that hour arrives. The chair simply announces the fact and declares the meeting adjourned. If the assembly does not then wish to adjourn, the matter is handled as a case of setting aside the order of the day.
The Discipline dictated that the 47th Session of the General Conference was to meet for 7 days commencing on the 4th Wednesday of July, 2004. The time for adjourning the General Conference was prescheduled. Therefore, at the conclusion of the seventh day, the time preschedule for the General Conference had expired and the Presiding Officer could declare the Conference adjourned without a motion.
Robert's Rules of Order, 10th Edition, Pg. 228, ¶ 20 states:
"EFFECT OF ADJOURNMENT ON PENDING BUSINESS OR ON AN UNCOMPLETED ORDER OF BUSINESS
The business that is unfinished at the time of adjournment falls to the ground. It can be introduced at the next session, however, the same as if it had never before been brought up."
Therefore, any business not completed before adjournment fails and must be introduced at the next General Conference.
THEREFORE, it is the decision of the Council that the Presiding Bishop at the conclusion of the seventh day of the General Conference had authority to declare the Conference adjourned. All uncompleted and/or unfinished business when the Conference was adjourned dies.
BY ORDER OF THE JUDICIAL COUNCIL THIS 7TH JANUARY 2005.