Effective Date of Certain GC2019 Legislation
When a piece of legislation is put into the Discipline by General Conference, the presumption is that it goes into effect January 1 of the following year. By then, the Discipline is in print and available world wide. The Bishops have had time to look at the change and see what changes they have to be ready to make. The agencies affected have time to gear up. As a general rule, that has served the Church well.
There are exceptions that the writers of the legislation intend so that a particular Disciplinary passage would go into effect immediately upon the conclusion of the General Conference. The practice then is to put that caveat into the legislation so that it will be printed in the Discipline when it comes out, usually well before the first of the year. With electronic capabilities being what they are, the actual text of the change to take effect immediately is already on line when General Conference adjourns.
When the Traditionalists’ Plan (TP) was passed in February, the passage that went into the Discipline did not include any such wording. From argument on the floor and from the various materials provided by the “Traditionalists,” it was clear they wanted it immediately in effect. It just wasn’t in the passage that was passed.
The Council of Bishops asked the Council the resolve the issue.
The Council made reference to the introductory materials that were not changed by the amendments and the common understanding (legislative intent) of the General Conference and ruled that the new legislation went into effect immediately.
On this, I feel the Council erred, as Beth Capen pointed out in her dissenting opinion. The Council, in this case, did not go by the book.
Practically speaking, there have been few churches who have actually used that extra time to withdraw. No conferences have, to my knowledge. I write this well after the first of the new year so the issue is now moot. But I am uncomfortable with the Council’s letting our normal protocol to slip in violation of ¶¶508 and 543.17.
So far, the Council seems to have threaded many a needle between law and church politics up to now. I can’t explain without entering into church politics how Ms. Capen’s argument did not immediately become the ruling.