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Decision No. 197
October 11 1962
In Re: Rulings of Bishop James W. Henley Made During the District Conference of the Tampa District of the Florida Conference Concerning the Status of an Elder on Voluntary Location
Digest of Case
The rulings of Bishop James W. Henley regarding the status of an elder on voluntary location are affirmed with the amendments and amplifications indicated.
Statement of Facts
Reverend Ellsworth Hartsfield, an Elder on Voluntary Location from the Louisville Conference living within the Tampa District of the Florida Conference, at a regular business session of the District Conference of the Tampa District, presented in writing to Bishop James W. Henley, then presiding over said conference, the following questions of law on which Bishop Henley ruled as hereinafter indicated. QUESTION 1 In Paragraph No. 312 does the Elder on Voluntary Location make a report to the District Committee on Ministerial Qualifications? Or in Paragraph 312 does the Elder on Voluntary Location make a report when the District Conference asks him for it? Ruling: Paragraph 312 applies to a Local Preacher who has never been amember of an Annual Conference and Paragraph 374 applies to an Annual Conference member who has voluntarily located. Therefore, he would not be required to make a report to the District Committee. QUESTION 2 Does the use of the District Committee on Ministerial Qualifications in Paragraph 376 apply to the Elder on Voluntary Location who is seeking readmission to an Annual Conference only for getting his ministerial pension? Ruling: Paragraph 376 describes the manner in which a minister who has beenlocated may be readmitted by an Annual Conference. However, it may be assumed that this paragraph refers to the case of the minister who is applying for readmission for the purpose of reentering the work of the ministry. QUESTION 3 With the Elder on Voluntary Location not engaged in pastoral work as supply or approved supply, and with his being amenable to the Annual Conference for his conduct and ordination as Paragraph 374 provides, is his character passed by the District Committee on Ministerial Qualifications, by the District Conference, or by the Annual Conference? Ruling: Being amenable to the Annual Conference that Conference may requiresuch character evaluation as it desires. QUESTION 4 An Elder on Voluntary Location sought to have Questions of Law for Judicial Council decision submitted at the Annual Conference within which he held his church membership and local preacher relation. I was the located elder. I sent my questions to Bishop Arthur J. Moore, expecting him to act without any hitch. He placed them in the hands of the Cabinet for return to him for his answering the questions while presiding over the Conference. However, the Cabinet refused to favor me by not passing them to the Bishop, explaining to me in a letter after Conference that because I was not an Annual Conference member the Cabinet could not legally submit my questions to the Bishop. Was the Cabinet constitutionally right in its action? Or was the Cabinet's action of doubtful application? Ruling: As the questions of law did not arise in the sessions of AnnualConference and as they were not properly before the presiding officer of that Conference no ruling was called for. Jurisdiction The Judicial Council has jurisdiction under Division three, Article VII, of the Constitution of The Methodist Church, being Paragraph 40 of the 1960 Discipline, and under Paragraph 909 of said Discipline, which require the Council to "pass upon the Decisions of Law made by the Bishop in Annual and District Conferences . . ." Analysis Bishop Henley has so clearly stated the pertinent passages of the Discipline applying to the questions propounded to him that further analysis of the ease seems unnecessary. The rulings of the Bishop are in agreement with the disciplinary provisions in regard to the status of an Elder on Voluntary Location. We would, however, call attention to the fact that Paragraph 376 of the 1960 Discipline would apply also in the case of an Elder on Voluntary Location applying for readmission for pension purposes. He also would need the recommendation from the District Committee on Ministerial Qualifications. Also in regard to Ruling No. 3 we would call attention to the fact that the Annual Conference must require such character evaluation as it desires and pass upon the character of a located elder subject to the conference. We would also call attention to the fact that while the ruling of Bishop Henley on Question No. 4 is entirely correct, he was under no obligation to rule upon the question since it did not apply to the work of the Tampa District Conference.
The Judicial Council, therefore, hereby affirms the decisions of Bishop James W. Henley with the amendments and amplifications indicated in the Analysis.