QUESTION OF LAW OR PARLIAMENTARY INQUIRY?
The bishop of the New England Annual Conference faced an interesting parliamentary tangle. As the agenda for the conference was being introduced, someone raised a written question noting two JCDs and asking if placing social concerns resolutions as of the same priority as Disciplinary-required agenda items. Since it was in writing, the bishop chose to treat it as a question of law. He would answer it sometime within thirty days and went on with the proceedings of the conference. A motion was placed later in the conference to refer the matter to the Judicial Council (maybe in light of the 2012 change in P 2609.6 which this Council struck down during this session; see JCD 1244) and to seek an answer from the bishop.
The Council majority saw the request as parliamentary and therefore took no jurisdiction. The bishop was supported in his interpretation that a motion about a parliamentary process (setting the agenda) was not an action of the conference.
Only two of the Council members disagreed. They did raise questions with both points of the instant decision. The conference was deprived of a parliamentary answer at the time it was needed and the vote on the agenda is an act of the conference therefore part of its business and subject to review of the Council.
It is hard to determine what was really the issue and what the questioner was really concerned about. Usually such inquires about social concerns items tends to be raised because someone feels they will not be heard in those arguments. If this is the case, it is an important issue to protect the right of voice.
But the way the question was delivered was more like a power play, to either intimidate or to counter intimidation. Again, there is too little information to sort out what was really happening.
It could have been someone flexing his parliamentary wings or someone trying to establish himself in some way with the conference or any number of other things.
What the questioner might have done instead was approach the agenda committee person ahead of conference when the agenda was first published to talk about it. Or approach the bishop in private conversation about it.
There are conceivable scenarios that could obviate these alternatives. But if the questioner had the time to prepare such a complex question in writing, he probably had time to try to sort this out informally before it hit the floor.