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Decision No. 192

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October 20 1961
In Re: Ruling of Bishop Richard C. Raines Concerning the Readmission of R. W. Parsley, a Voluntarily Located Person to the Indiana Annual Conference

Digest of Case

The Indiana Annual Conference acted within its legal rights in readmitting R. W. Parsley to the membership of the Annual Conference, and in determining his status and his claim to annuity.

Statement of Facts

The Journal of the 1961 session of the Indiana Annual Conference, page 365, records the following: "R. W. Parsley, a former member of this Conference now in voluntary location requested that he be reinstated and retired on the basis of a request in 1959 which failed to reach the proper authorities. Lacking all the facts in the case, the Conference granted the request. Bishop Raines ruled that the request was out of order because the granting of the request must be made under the legislation of the 1960 General Conference which forbids reinstatement for purposes of pension. It was moved to ask the Judicial Council for a decision on the Bishop's ruling." Essential facts concerning this case are as follows: 1. R. W. Parsley served as a full-time supply pastor in the Indiana Annual Conference from 1918 to 1922. 2. From 1922 to 1940, R. W. Parsley was an effective member of the Indiana Annual Conference. 3. At the session of the Indiana Annual Conference in 1940, R. W. Parsley was located at his own request. 4. Upon reaching 65 years of age on April 10, 1959, Mr. Parsley wrote to the Chairman of the Committee on Conference Relations of the Indiana Annual Conference requesting readmission to the Indiana Annual Conference for the purpose of retirement with annuity claim. 5. For unknown reasons the committee did not act on the request and hence the 1959 session of the Annual Conference took no action. 6. Mr. Parsley renewed his request in 1960; the Committee on Conference Relations was ready to recommend his reinstatement from voluntary location for purposes of retirement in 1960 until they were advised in early June by the Board of Pensions (Chicago) that such action would be in violation of Paragraph 1630, 15a of the 1960 Discipline. 7. Mr. Parsley renewed his request in 1961 on the basis that he had done his part in requesting the retired relation in 1959, or prior to the new legislation and the Annual Conference approved his request. 8. Bishop Richard C. Raines ruled that "the request could not be approved because Brother Parsley did not meet the requirements of the legislation of the 1960 General Conference." 9. The Executive Session of the Indiana Annual Conference meeting on June 14-18 at Bloomington by a vote more than one-fifth of the Annual Conference members appealed the decision of Bishop Raines. JURISDICTION This appeal is properly before the Judicial Council under Paragraph 43, Article 11, Section 2 of the Constitution and Paragraph 908 of the 1960 Discipline of the Methodist Church. ANALYSIS Paragraph 1630, 15 (a) of the 1960 Discipline, on which Bishop Raines based his ruling, states: "If a located person, whether located voluntarily orinvoluntarily, remains a member in good standing of the Methodist Church until the attainment of age 72, he shall retain the right to make an annuity claim based on his years of approved service: provided, however, that uponpresentation of satisfactory evidence regarding his character during location he shall have been readmitted into the Annual Conference or its legal successor, which granted him location." If this were the only disciplinary provision involved it seems clear that Bishop Raines' ruling was correct and should be sustained. However, other disciplinary provisions must be considered in determining the legality of the action of the Indiana Annual Conference in this case. Paragraph 22 of the 1960 Discipline, being Division Two Section VI, Article II of the Constitution, states: "The Annual Conference is the basic body in theChurch, and as such shall have reserved to it the right to vote . . . on all matters relating to the character and conference relations of its ministerial members. . . ." Paragraph 376 of the 1960 Discipline states: "A minister who has beenlocated at his own request may be readmitted by an Annual Conference, at its discretion, upon presentation of his certificate of location and the recommendation of his District Committee on Ministerial Qualifications and of the Annual Conference from which he located." Paragraph 1617 (1) states: "The Annual Conference may place any ministerialmember thereof in the retired relation, with or without his consent and irrespective of his age, if such relation be recommended by the Committee on Conference Relations." The Judicial Council interprets Paragraph 1630, 15 (a) as referring to the right of a located person to make an annuity claim. It cannot, however, abridge the disciplinary powers of an Annual Conference to readmit such a voluntarily located person if it desires, at any age and to place him either in the active or retired relationship with the Annual Conference. It appears from the facts before us that this is what the Annual Conference proposed to do and, in fact, had done before Bishop Raines made the ruling which is here under question. Paragraph 1616 of the 1960 Discipline states: "The Annual Conference shallbe the sole judge of the admissibility and validity of annuity claims and shall be fully competent to determine all payments, disallowances, and deductions thereunder ' subject to the specific regulations relating thereto contained in the Discipline." Regardless of whether under Paragraph 1630, 15 (a) R. W. Parsley had "the right to make an annuity claim," we believe and so rule that an Annual Conference, at its own discretion, may readmit such a man at any age and determine the time of his retirement and any annuity claim which it desires to recognize. Further supporting our opinion we cite the fact that Paragraph 379 of the 1960 Discipline, contained in a chapter of the Discipline specifically outlining the conditions of Annual Conference membership in all of its aspects, reads as follows: "If a located person remains a member in good standing of The MethodistChurch until the age of voluntary retirement fixed by the General Conference, he shall thereby retain the right to make an annuity claim, based upon his years of approved service; provided, however, that he shall have been readmitted by a two-thirds vote of the Annual Conference which granted him location; if it be nonexistent, then he shall apply for admission to the Annual Conference within the boundaries of which the major part of his service was rendered or its legal successor." We recognize a conflict between the wording of this paragraph and that of Paragraph 1630, 15 (a) under which Bishop Raines made his ruling. There is no evidence to show that Paragraph 379 of the 1960 Discipline was repealed nor intended to be repealed by the General Conference, nor that any provision of the Pension Code should be substituted therefore. While we do not depend upon Paragraph 379 to substantiate our judgment, we do point out that the bishop might have made his ruling upon the basis of this paragraph, rather than Paragraph 1630, 15 (a). Therefore we conclude that the Indiana Annual Conference was within its legal rights in readmitting R. W. Parsley and retiring him if it desired to do so and to recognize any years of service to which he would be entitled under the Discipline and the rules of the Annual Conference.

Decision

It is the decision of the Judicial Council that the Indiana Annual Conference acted legally in readmitting R. W. Parsley to conference membership and in determining his status within the conference and his claim to annuity. The ruling of Bishop Richard C. Raines is therefore reversed and the matter remanded to the Indiana Annual Conference for its further action.

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