REVIEW OF MERGER OF TWO CONFERENCES
Southwest Texas and Rios Grands Annual Conferences began merging as a result of a consolidation voted at Jurisdictional Conference in 2012. In February, 2014, a preliminary plan was presented to meetimgs of the two conferences where it was ratified. However, a question of law was asked to assure that the proposal met criteria for mergers and reorganization according to church law, both in the Discipline and in JCDs.
Previous reorganizations tended to give bishops the right of vote on legislative matters, meaning they would have control over both adminsitrative and legislative matters. Plans have also tended to diminish or eliminate groups in the conference related to history, social concerns, race, and women’s issues. No matter how many times the Judicial Council has struck down those flaws, conferences persist in making those same errors.
In this case, the bishop ruled that everything was in order, but that he could not go further than that in his ruling until the details, nominations, and budgets had all been prepared.
After spelling out several major gaps in the plan, the Judicial Council acknowldged that more details were needed and kept jurisdiction so that it could review the final details as well.
Let me add something I saw in Louisiana when the black and white conferences merged after the elimination of the Central Conference in the United States. It is relevant because these two conferences represent two rethnic groups, Rio Grande being primarily Hispanic and Southwest Texas being Anglo. The merger in Louisiana did not provide for the support of black institutions like its center for elder care. Where the black churches had made sure each was supported, the merged conference did not. I hope the Council will look carefully into that matter with respect to this merger.