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Decision No. 106

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July 19 1954
In Re: Request of Council on World Service and Finance for Declaratory Decision on Pension for Resigned Bishop or His Widow

Digest of Case

There is no legislation in the 1952 Discipline of The Methodist Church dealing with a pension for a resigned Bishop or his widow and therefore no basis for a Declaratory Decision on such legislation by the Judicial Council as requested by the Executive Committee of the Council on World Service and Finance. The Judicial Council therefore declines to accept jurisdiction in this instance.

Statement of Facts

On January 5, 1953, the Executive Committee of the Council on World Service and Finance took the following action: "The Committee reviewed the data concerning the claim of Mrs. G. R. Grose for a pension. G. B. McKibbin moved that the matter be referred to the Judicial Council for an Advisory Opinion or a Declaratory Decision. R. F. Curl seconded, and it was carried." Mrs. G. R. Grose is the widow of Dr. George R. Grose who was elected to the Episcopacy by the General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1924. He was assigned to the Peking Area in China and re-assigned to the same Area in 1928. In 1929, he was released from his duties as a Bishop, and in 1932 his resignation from that office was accepted. The following notation appears in the Journal of the General Conference of 1932 (page 542): "Your Committee, having made careful inquiry into the matters referred to it, respectfully recommends that the resignation of George R. Grose from the office of General Superintendent of the Methodist Episcopal Church be accepted, to take effect as of May 18, 1932. Adopted May 24, 1932." Following this resignation no action was taken by any Church body to provide a pension for G. R. Grose although he continued as a retired minister, listed as such in the North Indiana Conference Minutes from 1933 until his death in 1953. He relinquished pension claims on the Conference Annuity Funds for these years. The North Indiana Conference Minutes for 1953 (p. 493), contains a memoir recognizing his membership in that Conference. Mrs. Grose receives a widow's pension for the years of her husband's services in the New England, the Baltimore and the North Indiana Conferences prior to his election as a Bishop in 1924.

Decision

The Judicial Council in Paragraph 914 has authority to make "a Declaratory Decision as to the meaning, application, and effect" of acts or legislation enacted by the General Conference when these are "subject to more than one interpretation" or may be of "doubtful meaning, or application." There is, however, no legislation whatever in the Discipline dealing with pension provisions for a resigned Bishop or his widow, and therefore no basis for a Declaratory Decision by the Judicial Council. For the Council to render a Decision would be for it to take legislative action and this is not within the authority of this body. Thus, the Judicial Council must decline to make a Declaratory Decision as requested by the Executive Committee of the Council on World Service and Finance.

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