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Decision No. 303

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November 08 1968
In Re: The Request of the Co-ordinating Council of the Philippines CentralConference for a Declaratory Decision on Whether or Not Paragraph 394.4 of the 1968 Discipline Granting an Elder Who Has Served as a Bishop up to the Time of His Retirement the Status of a Retired Bishop Is Retroactive.

Digest of Case

A bishop elected for a term of years by a Central Conference of the former The Methodist Church and who at the end of his term was returned to membership in the Annual Conference under the Discipline of that Church is not now eligible to have his term revived and his tenure extended by Paragraph 394.4 of the 1968 Discipline.

Statement of Facts

The Judicial Council has been informed by Maynardo R. Jose, Secretary of the Co-ordinating Council of the Philippines Central Conference of The United Methodist Church, of a request by that Council as follows: "The Coordinating Council requests that a declaratory statement be made by the Judicial Council to make clear to us whether Action 394.4 of the General Conference on Retired Bishops is retroactive to include Bishop Dionisio D. Alejandro and all other bishops who have been affected by previous decisions of the Judicial Council." JURISDICTION The Judicial Council has jurisdiction under Paragraph 1715.2 of the 1968 Discipline. ANALYSIS Several decisions of the Judicial Council of the former The Methodist Church dealt with the interpretation of term episcopacy when a Central Conference chose a term of years rather than life tenure for its bishops (Nos. 61, 80, 199, 236). Decision No. 236 declared that: "A bishop, even though he reaches the age of compulsory retirement concurrently with the completion of the term of office, ceases to be a bishop and returns to the status of a member of the Annual Conference." and that: "There is no provision by which he may be elected to continue in office as a retired bishop." In the 1968 Discipline of The United Methodist Church there is now a provision that: "An elder who has served as bishop up to the time of his retirement shall have the status of a retired bishop." (Par. 394.4) The question before us is whether or not under this Paragraph 394.4 an elder who had been elected to an episcopal term by a General Conference under the Discipline of the former The Methodist Church and had been retired at the end of his term and returned to the status of membership in the Annual Conference is now given the status of a retired bishop. Our decision must be that Paragraph 394.4 cannot be so applied. The provisions of the 1968 Discipline of The United Methodist Church become the law of a new church and cannot be held to apply to relationships established and consummated under the Discipline of former churches. Furthermore, Paragraph 55 of the Constitution of The United Methodist Church which determines the status of bishops coming into the new church from the uniting churches reads in part as follows: "The bishops, both active and retired, of The Evangelical United Brethren Church and of The Methodist Church at the time union is consummated, shall be bishops of The United Methodist Church. "The bishops of The Methodist Church elected by the jurisdictions, the active bishops of The Evangelical United Brethren Church at the time of union, and bishops elected by the jurisdictions of The United Methodist Church shall have life tenure. Each bishop elected by a Central Conference of The Methodist Church shall have tenure as the Central Conference electing him shall have determined." There is here a constitutional recognition of the power that existed in a Central Conference of the former The Methodist Church to determine the tenure of its bishops, electing them for life or for terms of years. Some who had been elected for life and others whose terms had not expired continued as bishops in The United Methodist Church. Former Central Conference bishops, however, whose terms had ended and who by the law of the former The Methodist Church had been returned to membership in the Annual Conference are not recognized as bishops under the law of The United Methodist Church.

Decision

It is the decision of the Judicial Council that Paragraph 394.4 of the 1968 Discipline cannot be held to apply to Dionisio D. Alejandro or any other elders so situated.

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