Oklahoma Conference of the United Methodist Church

Judicial Council makes clear new rules for clergy voting


By Joseph Harris, Conference Secretary

New categories for clergy voting in elections for General/Jurisdictional Conference clergy delegates now have been clarified by the denomination’s Judicial Council.

The ruling will apply to these elections when our Annual Conference meets May 29-June 1 in Oklahoma City. Election rules for lay delegates do not change.

All voting will be on Monday, May 30.

This year, Oklahomans will choose representatives to the 2012 General and Jurisdictional Conferences of our Church. The delegation will be equally divided between clergy and laity, elected by their peers.

In 2008, the Constitution in the United Methodist Book of Discipline was revised to expand clergy voting rights to some Local Pastors. Under the previous Discipline (the denominational law book), Local Pastors were not allowed to vote on clergy representatives to these top legislative meetings.

The United Methodist Council of Bishops certified the change in spring 2010. The Judicial Council issued its clarification on Feb. 14.

In the Constitution, Paragraph 35 Article IV reads as follows:

"The clergy delegates to the General Conference and to the jurisdictional or central conference shall be elected from the clergy members in full connection and shall be elected by the clergy members of the annual conference who are deacons and elders in full connection, associate members, and those provisional members and local pastors who have completed all of their educational requirements and have served a minimum of two consecutive years under appointment immediately preceding election."

Here is how the change will apply in the Oklahoma Conference.

Who may vote for the clergy delegates to General/Jurisdictional Conference?

1. Elders and Deacons in full connection, active or retired

(Note: Persons who are to be received into full membership and ordained Elder or Deacon in full connection at the session of the annual conference may vote or be elected to the General Conference delegation after they have been elected to full membership by the Clergy Session. Thus Oklahoma Elders and Deacons elected to full connection by the 2011 Clergy Session, scheduled for Sunday afternoon of the conference, are eligible to vote and serve as delegates.)

2. Associate Members, active or retired

3. Provisional Members who have completed all their educational requirements including History, Doctrine, and Polity

4. Local Pastors, active or retired, who have completed Course of Study or an M.Div. degree and have served a minimum of two consecutive years under appointment immediately preceding election

  • The Course of Study or M.Div. degree, including History, Doctrine, and Polity, shall have been completed prior to the 2011 annual conference session.

  • Appointment (full or part-time) for both the 2009-10 and the 2010-11 annual conference years

  • Each district superintendent has determined the voting eligibility of Local Pastors.

5. The following rules also apply to Elders and Deacons in full connection:

  • Clergy on voluntary leaves of absence may vote and may be elected as delegates.

  • Clergy on sabbatical, family, paternity/maternity, and disability leave may vote and be elected.

  • Retired clergy may vote and be elected as delegates.

  • Clergy under suspension from pastoral duties may vote but may not be elected as delegates.

Who may NOT vote for clergy delegates to General/Jurisdictional Conference?


Clergy on honorable location.

Clergy on administrative location.

Local Pastors who do not meet the requirements listed above in No. 4.

Who may be elected as a clergy delegate?

Elders and Deacons in full connection, active or retired.

Who may NOT be elected as a clergy delegate?

Provisional Members, Associate Members, Local Pastors, Elders and Deacons in full connection on Involuntary Leave of Absence (paragraph 255.7, Suspended, Honorable Location or Administrative Location.

(This is Part One of a series on the voting process at Annual Conference in late May.)



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