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Decision No. 341

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April 26 1971
In Re: Ruling by Bishop Everett W. Palmer on Membership in Alaska Mission Annual Meeting.

Digest of Case

The ruling of Bishop Everett W. Palmer that those ministers on special appointment for work within the boundaries of the Alaska Mission had the full privileges of members in the annual meeting of the Alaska Mission is not sustained.

Statement of Facts

During the annual meeting of the Alaska Mission held June 1-4, 1970 the late Bishop Everett W. Palmer ruled that those ministers under special appointment for work within the boundaries of the Alaska Mission had the full privileges of membership in the annual meeting of the Alaska Mission. On June 4, 1970 the annual meeting voted to request a ruling of the Judicial Council in regard to Bishop Palmer's ruling. JURISDICTION Jurisdiction is accepted under Paragraph 1711 of the Discipline. ANALYSIS The matter in question is primarily that of which ministers who are Annual Conference members may be regarded as members of the annual meeting of the Alaska Mission with full privileges of membership. Secondarily; it has to do with which ministers who are Annual Conference members serving under special appointment within the boundaries of the Alaska Mission are entitled to fully privileged membership in the annual meeting of the Alaska Mission. With particular and specific reference to "Administration of a Mission," Paragraph 1336 states that administration of a Mission in the United States or its territories shall be in the National Division of the Board of Missions until requirements have been met for the organization of a Provisional or an Annual Conference (section 1). Further, Paragraph 1336.2 states: "The Mission shallmeet annually and shall be composed of all regularly appointed missionaries (emphasis added), both lay and clerical, mission traveling preachers, and other lay members." At this point, it is to be noted that according to Paragraph 374 mission traveling preachers, deacons, and elders, are distinguished from traveling preachers who are members of an Annual Conference in that they are members of a Mission without being members of an Annual Conference. With particular reference to the regularly appointed missionaries who qualify for membership in the annual meeting of a Mission, Paragraph 1323.4 defines "Home Missionaries" (under which heading those serving within the boundaries of the Alaska Mission are classifiable), as persons married or single who, having met the requirements of the Joint Committee on Missionary Personnel, are commissioned by a bishop for service in projects or programs administratively related to the National Division. In regard to the assignment of missionaries within a Mission the Discipline (Par: 1336.4) specifies that thepresiding officer is to assign missionaries provided that no missionary shall be transferred to or from a Mission without previous consultation with the National Division. Paragraph 390.4 further provides that the bishop is to fix the appointment of preachers in Missions as the Discipline may direct. Paragraph 1318 states: "The Associate General Secretary of the National Division shallcommunicate to the bishops such information as may be available concerning missions and the appointment of workers in their respective areas." Again, with respect to the administration of a Mission and to the assignment of missionaries, the Discipline, Paragraph 1307.1, places administration in the hands of the National Division; and in Paragraph 1307.10, it sets forth National Division responsibility to include that of accepting for assignment to its various fields of service, upon recommendation of the Joint Committee on Missionary Personnel, missionaries and deaconesses who have been approved by the Board of Missions. The disciplinary references and citations seem to be clear in specifying that the National Division is the primary party in the administration of a Mission; that membership of a ministerial member of an Annual Conference in the annual meeting of a Mission is restricted to those who are missionaries according to the disciplinary definition; and that assignment of missionaries by a bishop is to be made in consultation with the National Division. Bishop Palmer's ruling appears to have been based upon an assumption that all ministerial Annual Conference members serving within the boundaries of the Alaska Mission were automatically members of the Mission's annual meeting. Such an assumption is erroneous in view of Paragraph 1323.4b which defines "home missionaries," and in view of Paragraph 1336.2 which restricts membership in the present instance to ministers who are missionaries. Therefore, the bishop's ruling can be sustained only to the extent that any and all ministers with membership in an Annual Conference and involved in the case, were duly assigned and appointed missionaries, having first been approved by the National Division. Since the issue here includes "ministers on special appointment," reference is made to Paragraph 352 of the Discipline, and it would seem that similar limitations should be imposed on the appointment of ministers at the annual meeting of the Alaska Mission. If the appointment in Alaska meets the requirements of Paragraph 352, and the appointee qualifies under Paragraphs 1323.4b and 1336.2, then such an appointee does qualify for membership in the annual meeting of the Alaska Mission, whose presiding bishop has made that appointment. Membership in the annual meeting of the Alaska Mission by ministers who hold membership in an Annual Conference, and who are classifiable under the heading of "special appointment," is restricted to those who meet two prior requirements: (1) They must be home missionaries by definition; and (2) theymust be engaged in work approved by the National Division. Insofar as Bishop Palmer's ruling granted membership to anyone who did not meet the two foregoing requirements, his ruling is not sustained. Conversely, his ruling is affirmed in any and all instances in which appointees met the two requirements.

Decision

The ruling of Bishop Everett W. Palmer that those ministers on special appointment for work within the boundaries of the Alaska Mission had the full privileges of membership in the annual meeting of the Alaska Mission is hereby not sustained.

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