Meeting on the evening of May 1, the top court of The United Methodist Church decided to defer two requests for rulings that came from the floor of the 2008 General Conference.
The Judicial Council said both issues would require more study and would become docket items for its October session.
One question was whether pending legislation would automatically trigger the designation of the United States as a "regional conference" of the church. The legislation, Petition 80809, would replace the word "central" with the word "regional" in Paragraph 10, Article III, of the church's Constitution. The legislation was approved by the legislative committee on Conferences, and in plenary by a vote of 593-295.
The second request deals with legislation relating to the status of local pastors when they retire. That legislation, which started as Petition 80004, allows a retiring local pastor to elect to be recognized as either a lay person or a "retired local pastor." It was passed by the full assembly as part of the consent calendar.
The request for a decision asks if the new legislation is in conflict with Paragraph 602 of the 2004 Book of Discipline, which outlines the composition of the annual conference.
The Judicial Council will hold an orientation session in July in Chicago, followed by its next regularly scheduled meeting Oct. 22-25 in Minneapolis.
*Caldwell is editor of the Virginia United Methodist Advocate and covers Judicial Council for United Methodist News Service.
News media contact: Neill Caldwell, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.