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Decision No. 89

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November 24 1952
In Re: Question Proposed by Ruben V. Candelaria, Delegate From the Philippines Annual Confer- ence, and Referred by the General Confer- ence to the Judicial Council for a Declaratory Decision

Digest of Case

A Committee of Investigation has authority only to inquire whether or not the accused person is guilty of committing one of the offenses enumerated in Par. 921. Its findings must be certified and declared to the Annual Conference by the District Superintendent. If in the judgment of the Committee the evidence does seem to substantiate the accusation, the Committee has no alternative but to prepare and file the proper charges and specifications. (198)

Statement of Facts

The above captioned matter arose in the following manner: On May 6, 1952,Dr. W. A. Stanbury presented to the General Conference, on behalf of the Judicial Council, a brief Report on a matter that had been previously referred to the Judicial Council. When Dr. Stanbury had concluded this Report, the following transpired: Bishop Reed: Thank you. While we are on the matter of the Report from the Judicial Council, will you permit the Chair to grant the courtesy of the floor to a delegate from the Philippines on a matter of reference to the Judicial Council? Ruben V. Candelaria (Philippines): Mr. Chairman and members of the General Conference, I certainly do not wish to take this moment, knowing we are pressed with time. I have two questions regarding our Central Conference in the Philippines: First: Can a retired member of an Annual Conference now appointed as a Supply Pastor be elected to the General Conference? Second: Can a Committee of Investigation under certain circumstances terminate a case and render a Decision? With the permission of this body I move these be referred to the Judicial Council for a Declaratory Decision. Bishop Reed: You have heard the motion. Is it seconded? (The motion was duly seconded.) Bishop Reed: As many as will refer indicate it with the uplifted hand; contrary the same. It is done. (Page 549, Daily Christian Advocate, 1952) Later that same afternoon (Page 575, Daily Christian Advocate), consent was asked for the privilege of announcing the Judicial Council's Decision on these questions "at the next meeting following the adjournment of the General Conference." JURISDICTION The General Conference, under Subdivision 5 of Article II of Division Four of the Constitution (Paragraph 43 of the 1952 Discipline), has broad powers in the matter of conferring additional jurisdiction upon the Judicial Council. This Paragraph)h 43 of the Discipline sets out the Constitutional duties and powers of the Judicial Council, and ends with this Subdivision 5, reading as follows: 5. To have such other duties and powers as may be conferred upon it by the General Conference. Since these questions were specifically submitted by the General Conference to the Judicial Council for a Declaratory Decision thereon, it is the Decision of the Judicial Council that, under the Constitutional Provision above quoted, it has jurisdiction to render such requested Declaratory Decision. Question "B" Can a Committee of Investigation, under certain circumstances, terminate a case and render a Decision? As, for instance, when the accused admits the charge or charges against him? ANALYSIS The following Paragraphs from the 1952 Discipline of The Methodist Church are pertinent to the question under consideration: Paragraph 921. A Bishop or traveling preacher On Trial in an Annual Conference shall be liable to accusation and trial upon any of the following charges: (a) Unchristian tempers, words or actions. (b) Disobedience to the order and Discipline of the Church. (e) Imprudent or unministerial conduct. (d) Habitual neglect of duties as a member or officer in the Church. (e) Disseminating Doctrines contrary to the Articles of Religion or other established Standards of Doctrine of the Church. (f) Immorality or crime. (g) Maladministration in office in the Church. Paragraph 932. If a traveling preacher or a preacher On Trial, in the interval between sessions of his Conference, shall be accused of any of the offenses enumerated in Paragraph 921, his District Superintendent, or the Superintendent of the District within the bounds of which such acts are alleged to have taken place, shall call the Committee of Investigation to inquire into same, and, if possible, bring the accused and the accuser face to face; the accused shall have the right to make a statement in his own behalf but shall not present any witnesses. The District Superintendent shall preside throughout the proceedings, and shall certify and declare the judgment of the Committee. Paragraph 934. If in the judgment of a majority of the Committee of Investigation there is reasonable ground for such accusation, they shall prepare and sign the proper charges and specifications, send a copy to the accused, to the Bishop in charge, and to the Secretary of the Annual Conference . . . . Under these provisions of the law, the accusation must charge the accused of committing one of the offenses enumerated in said Paragraph 921. If, in the judgment of a majority of the Committee, the acts of the accused complained of do not constitute one of such offenses, the Committee has the right so to determine, and the District Superintendent "shall certify and declare the judgment of the Committee" to the Annual Conference. (See Paragraph 932, 1952 Discipline.) On the other hand, if the acts of the accused complained of do constitute one of the offenses enumerated in Paragraph 921, then whether or not the accused admits that he committed such acts, the Committee "shall prepare and sign the proper charges and specifications."

Decision

It is the Decision of the Judicial Council that if in the judgment of a majority of the Committee of Investigation the acts charged against the accused do not constitute one of the offenses enumerated in Paragraph 921 of the 1952 Discipline, the Committee has the right so to determine and it shall be the duty of the District Superintendent to certify and declare such judgment of the Committee to the Annual Conference. It is the Decision of the Judicial Council, however, that if the acts charged against the accused do constitute one of the offenses enumerated in Paragraph 921 of the Discipline, whether or not the accused admits such charges, the Committee of Investigation has no alternative but to prepare and file the proper charges and specifications.

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