CONNECTIONAL LAY COUNCIL ISSUE
THE JUDICIAL COUNCIL OF
THE AFRICAN METHODIST EPISCOPAL ZION CHURCH
IN THE MATTER OF
THE PETITION OF SHEILA QUINTANA
DECISION No. 2008-023
This case comes before the Judicial Council by petition for declaratory judgment filed by Sheila Quintana, a member in good standing of The African Methodist Episcopal Zion Connection (John Wesley's spelling), pursuant to Article II Jurisdiction, paragraph 360 of the rules of the Judicial Council in accordance with the Act passed by the 2004 General Conference which reads:
ARTICLE II – JURISDICTION
“The Council shall not have original jurisdiction, since the decisions are declaratory and final in the interim of the General Conference.” ¶ 360 (b), Article I, page 135, The Book of Discipline of The African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church(2004), (hereinafter referred to as “The Discipline”).
ARTICLE III – 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 of 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.” Id. ¶ 361(b), Art. III, p.135.
FACTS OF THE CASE
A charge of unlawful removal from the Regional Directorship of the Connectional Lay Council of The A.M.E. Zion Church was cited against Mr. David Aiken, General President of the Connectional Lay Council by Ms. Sheila Quintana. As Ms. Quintana was invited officially to attend an annual Connectional Lay Council Executive Board Meeting on July 27-28, 2007, the Presidents report of the Connectional Lay Council stated that Ms. Quintana was removed from her position as a Regional Director of the Western District of the said Council. Ms. Quintana is removal as a Regional Director thus relinquished her from service in the Connectional Lay Council. Ms. Quintana argues, as her petition for a declaratory judgment suggests, that her removal proceeded without attending to the matter of a procedural protocol as stipulated by The Book of Discipline relative to the Connectional Lay Council.
QUESTIONS TO BE DECIDED
1. Does the Connectional Lay Council President have the right to remove an officer of the said Council, and if so, by what means?
2. If the By-Laws of the Connectional Lay Council of The African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church are silent, shall Robert's Rules of Order be used to determine whether the Connectional Lay Council president has the right to remove an officer of the Connectional Lay Council.
In consideration of the first question -- Does the Connectional Lay Council President have the right to remove an officer of the said Council, and if so, by what means? -- subsumes the necessity for addressing the above second question.
The Discipline in paragraph 651 (page 324) of this section concerning the Connectional Lay Council so establishes a protocol for the appointment of Regional Directors to serve as officers of the Connectional Lay Council The Book of Discipline reads:
The Connectional Lay Council shall be organized in Regions equal to the number of and consistent with the Episcopal Districts. Each region shall have a Director. The Director shall be appointed by the president [i.e., the president of the Connectional Lay Council] and confirmed by the Executive Board.
The language of this procedural protocol sets in motion an administrative process that creates a pool of leadership for the Connectional Lay Council that accrues from the involvement not only of the president of the Lay Council but also the involvement of the Executive Board of the Said Council. Such a process fosters a mode of accountability that removes the president of the Council from standing as the "sole arbiter" of who serves as a Regional Director of the Council.
While the president, according to paragraph 651 (page 324) has the right to name and, therefore, appoint Regional Directors, the president exercises that right only with the approval of the Executive Board. As an Executive Board ultimately determines who serves as a Regional Director of the Council, the protocol for removing an officer whom the president would choose to remove must in some way also conform to procedural stricture that involves the Executive Board, even should that Board uphold a president's decision to remove a Regional Director. A procedural measure that involves the Executive Board in bringing Regional Directors to their positions of leadership necessitates, then, the involvement of the same Executive Board in the removal of a Regional Director from their leadership post.
In short, the president of the Connectional Lay Council indeed has the right to remove an officer, that is to say a Regional Director, whom he/she appoints. But, the president exercises this right with an implied proviso. The Executive Board of the Connectional Lay Council must exercise its authority to allow or disallow the removal of the Regional Director, given the recommendation of the president. A president, therefore, is not the sole arbiter of who serves or no longer serves in the position of Regional Director. The Executive Board of the Connectional Lay Council has the procedural right to "confirm" the removal of a Regional Director or to vote against the removal of a Regional Director.
This matter is remanded it to the Connectional Lay Council for further actions consistent with this decision.
BY ORDER OF THE JUDICIAL COUNCIL THIS 9th DAY OF JUNE, 2008.