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Decision No. 254

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October 27 1967
In Re: The Right of a Bishop to Appoint a Minister in the Effective Relationship with an Annual Conference to the District Superintendency or a Pastorate in Another Annual Conference Also under His Jurisdiction without Transferring the Minister from the First to the Second Annual Conference

Digest of Case

A bishop has acted beyond his authority if he appoints a minister in the effective relationship with an Annual Conference to a pastorate or district superintendency in another Annual Conference unless there has been a concurrent or prior transfer of the membership of the minister, in accordance with the provisions of Paragraph 431.7, to the Annual Conference in which the appointment has been made.

Statement of Facts

Bishop Benjamin I. Guansing of the Manila Area of the Philippines Central Conference, appointed three members of the Philippines Annual Conference to pastorates and one to the district superintendency in the Middle Philippines Annual Conference, both Annual Conferences being under the presidency of Bishop Guansing. A request in writing was made on June 1, 1967, at a business session of the Philippines Annual Conference that Bishop Guansing rule "on certain questions of law" relating to these appointments. The questions were: "1. Does the appointment of the said ministers to regular appointments in the Middle Philippines Annual Conference constitute a transfer of their membership to the Middle Philippines Annual Conference thereby severing their membership in the Philippines Annual Conference and rendering them ineligible to participate as members in the deliberations of the current session of the Philippines Annual Conference? "2. If the appointment of the said ministers does not constitute a transfer of their conference membership (that is, if the ruling on number (1) is negative), then is the appointment of said ministerial members of one Annual Conference to pastoral charges and a district superintendency within the bounds of another Annual Conference without the transfer of their conference membership to that Annual Conference constitutional?" In his letter of July 8, 1967 to the secretary of the Judicial Council Bishop Guansing lists the above two questions and adds a third on which he also ruled: " (c) May ministerial members of the Philippines Annual Conference who have been regularly appointed to either the District Superintendency of pastoral charges in the Middle Philippines Annual Conference be elected by the 1967 regular session of the Philippines Annual Conference as its delegate(s) to either the 1968 General Conference or the 1968 Philippines Central Conference?" Bishop Guansing in his written reply to the request for a ruling stated: "that the appointments of the ministers in question . . . do not constitute a transfer of their membership from the Philippines Annual Conference to the Middle Philippines Annual Conference . . .that the appointments of the four ministers, which does not transfer their Annual Conference membership . . . are constitutional ... (and) that ministerial members of the Philippines Annual Conference who have been regularly appointed to either the district superintendency or pastoral charges in the Middle Philippines Annual Conference and whose Annual Conference membership has not been transferred to the latter Annual Conference do not lose their eligibility for election by the 1967 session of the Philippines Annual Conference to membership either of the 1968 General Conference or the 1968 Philippines Central Conference." JURISDICTION The Judicial Council has jurisdiction under Paragraph 908 of the Discipline. ANALYSIS The essential question raised by the appeal is whether it is within the power of a bishop to appoint a minister in the effective relationship in one Annual Conference to serve as a pastor or district superintendent in another Annual Conference, if such appointment is made without prior or concurrent transfer of that minister's membership to the Annual Conference in which he is appointed to serve. It is our opinion that it is not within the bishop's power so to do, even though the bishop is the presiding officer of both Annual Conferences. The provisions controlling a bishop's powers of appointment are found in Paragraphs 431 and 432, the salient portions of which, relevant to this case, are as follows: "Par. 431.4. To fix the appointments of the preachers in the Annual Conferences, Provisional Annual Conferences, and Missions, as the Discipline may direct. . . ." "Par. 431.7. To transfer, with the consent of the bishop of the receiving Annual Conference, a ministerial member of one Annual Conference to another, provided the ministerial member agrees to said transfer; and to send immediately to the secretaries of both conferences involved, to the registrar of the conference in which the member is being received if he is on trial, and to the clearinghouse of the General Board of Pensions, written notices of the transfer of the member, and of his standing in the course of study if he is an undergraduate." "Par. 432.1. He shall appoint preachers to pastoral charges annually after consultation with the district superintendents; provided that, before the official declaration of the assignments of the preachers, he shall announce openly to the Cabinet his appointments; and provided, further, that before the final announcement of appointments is made the district superintendents shall consult with the pastors concerning their specific appointments except when the pastors involved have left the seat of the Annual Conference without the permission of the Annual Conference. . . ." The cited legislation clearly indicates that a bishop may appoint a minister in the effective relationship to a position within the latter's own Annual Conference. There is no authority for a bishop to appoint such a minister to a position in an Annual Conference where he is not a member. This follows logically from the provisions of Paragraph 431.7 which require the consent of the member involved before he can be transferred to another Annual Conference and specifies a formal procedure to evidence such transfer. To hold that a bishop has authority to appoint a minister to a pastorate or to the district superintendency in another Annual Conference even with his consent, but without a transfer of his membership, would nullify the transfer requirements and undermine the traditional relationship between a minister and his Annual Conference. This conclusion is in accord with our Decision No. 114 which was reaffirmed in Decisions Nos. 163 and 216. In his ruling the bishop stated: ".... no transfer of Annual Conference forthe four ministers has been contemplated and, consequently, no effort to meet the conditions for transfer of Annual Conference membership has been made." Thus, the provisions of Paragraph 431.7 have not been complied with and in appointing a minister in an Annual Conference other than the one in which he has his membership, even with the consent of the minister, the bishop has acted beyond his authority. If the ministers in question are to continue to serve under their present appointments, their Annual Conference memberships must be transferred in accordance with the Discipline. We have no information as to whether the persons in question were or were not elected as delegates to the General Conference or the Philippines Central Conference. However, we call attention to the fact that standards of eligibility require that a person elected as a delegate must be a member of the Annual Conference electing him at the time of his election as well as at the time of his service as a delegate to the General Conference and the Philippines Central Conference.

Decision

It is the decision of the Judicial Council that the appointments referred to in the appeal were beyond the authority of Bishop Guansing since no prior or concurrent transfer of the membership of the ministers under consideration was made from the Philippines Annual Conference to the Middle Philippines Annual Conference. Therefore the ruling of the bishop is reversed.

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