A Question of Terminology
The Greater New Jersey layman bringing the question about directing that local church conferences should be held simultaneously in a central meeting place got lost in a new bad practice, using the phrase “request a ruling of law.” No one brought to the attention of the layman who he wanted to answer that question. If he wanted the bishop to answer it, he should have followed the route for using a question of law Par. 2609.6). The bishop would then get to rule (as he could do in this case). And his ruling had the weight of law until the Council acted on it. In this case, the Council reversed his decision, not because it was wrong, but because it was inappropriate for him to have answered a question that had been incorrectly raised for adjudication by the Council.
The Council would have had to rule as it did because questions of law have to be about something specific being acted upon by the conference. No such motion was before or had been passed by the plenary related to the question. The lay person would have been wise to make a motion challenging the abuse of the Discipline on this point and then, if need be, bring the question of law.
Had the lay person requested a declaratory decision (Par. 2610) which the conference could have discussed (which would have been better for the request), voted upon, and thus referred to the Council, there could well have been a ruling to counter the way decisions about church conferences were being made.