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Decision No. 91

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November 24 1952
In Re: Request of the Iowa-Des Moines Annual Con- ference for an Interpretation of Paragraph 308 of the 1948 Discipline as Amended by the 1952 General Conference

Digest of Case

An unordained Student Pastor, who is a candidate for the traveling ministry while serving as a regularly appointed Pastor of a charge, may be authorized to administer the Sacraments of Baptism and the Lord's Supper, and, if the laws of the State permit, to perform the marriage ceremony within the bounds of his pastoral charge, provided he has passed the Course of Study for Admission on Trial, but he may be excused from advancing in the Conference Course of Study while attending a college or seminary "approved by the authorized standardizing agency."

Statement of Facts

The Iowa-Des Moines Annual Conference of The Methodist Church at its 1952 Session, on motion of Dr. E. E. Voigt, Chairman of the Iowa-Des Moines Conference Board of Ministerial Training, adopted the following: The Iowa-Des Moines Conference requests the Judicial Council to rule upon the effect of Paragraph 308 as amended by the General Conference of 1952, upon young men in college and seminary. JURISDICTION The Judicial Council has jurisdiction to respond to this request under the 1952 amendment to Paragraph 914 of the 1948 Discipline authorizing Annual Conferences to petition the Judicial Council for Declaratory Decisions. ANALYSIS Paragraph 308 of the 1948 Discipline as amended in 1952 reads as follows: An unordained Pastor, only while serving as a regularly appointed Pastor of a charge, may be authorized to administer the Sacraments of Baptism and The Lord's Supper and, if the laws of the State permit, to perform the marriage ceremony, within the bounds of his pastoral charge, provided: (a) He has passed the Course of Study for Admission on Trial, (b) And each year thereafter he passes one full year of the Course of Study, looking to full ordination. Failure to complete one full year annually shall cause suspension of this privilege. In all foreign mission fields the conferring of such authority shall rest with the Central Conference in which the Pastor serves. The questions upon which the Iowa-Des Moines Conference requests a Declaratory Decision as expressed in a letter from Dr. Voigt to the Secretary of the Judicial Council are as follows: Must they (student ministers) in addition to their regular school work, make regular advance in the Conference Course of Study? Or can the end of Paragraph 304 (Paragraph 305, 1952 Discipline) be so interpreted that in making regular advances in the academic program they will be excused from the Conference Course of Study and still be allowed to administer the Sacraments in their student charges? We may assume that the unordained Student Pastor is a licensed Local Preacher and has passed the Course of Study for License to Preach listed under Paragraph 2043 of the 1952 Discipline. If he is to qualify for administering the Sacraments it is clear that he must also comply with the requirement of Paragraph 308 (a) by taking the examinations for Admission on Trial as listed under Paragraph 2044, 1952 Discipline. These two courses have been termed "Orientation Courses" and are not considered in the same category as the regular Courses of Study listed under Course I, Paragraphs 2045-2048, and Course II, Paragraphs 2052-2055. It would seem that the framers of the legislation governing the Courses of Study regarded knowledge of the books listed in Paragraphs 2043 and 2044 for Local Preacher's license and Admission on Trial as basic, almost indispensable training for the young man who is to preach the Gospel and administer the Sacraments, whether he attends college and seminary or not. Paragraph 305 states: In the case of Local Preachers who are candidates for the traveling ministry, examinations may be suspended while they are pursuing regular Courses of Study in our theological seminaries or in universities and colleges approved by the authorized standardizing agency. There can be no doubt that this suspension of examinations was intended to apply only to the "Course of Study looking to full ordination" referred to in Paragraph 308 (b) but not to the "Orientation" Course of Study for Admission on Trial referred to in Paragraph 308 (a). Paragraph 2041 Sec. 4 specifies that Paragraph 2044 indicates the four books required for: (a) Admission on Trialinto an Annual Conference unless candidate furnishes equivalent Seminary credits; (b) authorization for an unordained Supply Pastor to perform ministerial functions as set forth in Paragraph 308; (e) an introduction to the four year Course of Study specified for Full-time Supply Pastors in Paragraph 320. Then in the same Paragraph, sections 5 and 6 indicate the persons for whom the Courses I and II are intended. They are either the persons who do not have a seminary degree or Full-time Supply Pastors or other Local Preachers. Paragraph 2041 Section 9 quotes Paragraph 305 by way of emphasis. All of the above emphasizes the fact that suspended examinations apply only to the four year Courses of Study "for Conference members" indicated in Paragraphs 2045 to 2048, and the four year Course of Study "for Supply Pastors and Local Preachers" indicated in Paragraphs 2052-2055.

Decision

the Decision of the Judicial Council that an unordained Student Pastor who is a candidate for the traveling ministry while serving as a regularly appointed Pastor of a charge is authorized to perform ministerial functions as set forth in Paragraph 308 if he has passed the Course of Study for Admission on Trial even though he may not be eligible for Admission because of other Conference standards or requirements. But having passed the Course of Study for Admission on Trial, examinations may be suspended on the regular four year Conference Course as long as he is pursuing courses of study in a college or seminary "approved by the authorized standardizing agency."

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