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Decision No. 366

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October 27 1972
In Re: May an Elder in Full Connection, Who Takes Voluntary Location under Paragraph 367, 1972 Discipline, be Classified on the Conference Rolls, and Serve as a Lay Pastor, Subject to Assignment of the District Superintendent?

Digest of Case

An elder who has been granted voluntary location may be classified on the conference rolls, and serve as a lay pastor, but is not subject to assignment of the district superintendent.

Statement of Facts

On August 8, 1972 the secretary of the Louisiana Annual Conference duly submitted to the Judicial Council a resolution seeking a declaratory decision which resolution had been adopted by the conference during its session of June, 1972. In part the resolution reads: "May an elder in full connection, who takes voluntary location under Paragraph 366, be classified on the conference rolls, and serve as a Lay Pastor, subject to assignment of the District Superintendent?" JURISDICTION Jurisdiction is based upon Paragraph 1515 of the 1972 Discipline. ANALYSIS The question before the Council in this instance consists of two parts: 1)May an elder who has been granted voluntary location be classified on the conference rolls and serve as a lay pastor?; 2) May the said elder be subject to assignment (appointment) of the district superintendent? The answer to the first part lies in Paragraph 366 of the Discipline as enacted by the General Conference of 1972 (Par. 367, 1972 Discipline); answer to the second lies in that legislation of The United Methodist Church which sets forth the duties of the district superintendent as they have to do with assignment or appointment of persons to serve pastoral charges as pastors. It is to be noted that in The Methodist Church a body of legislation existed continuously from 1939 according to which an elder who had been granted voluntary location became a local preacher who although ordained was by definition a layman. (See Paragraph 374, 1964 Discipline; Judicial Council Decisions Nos. 110 and 173.) As such the elder was a member of a local church in which under a pastor he could exercise his orders. He could also serve as an approved supply pastor subject to the appointment of a district superintendent. In The Evangelical United Brethren Church, on the other hand, local elders, including those not continued in the itinerancy, were classified as ministers whose membership was in a local church. (See Paragraphs 271, 272, 1967 E.UB. Discipline.) Additionally, in The Evangelical United Brethren Church each minister serving a charge held membership on the charge where he served. (Par. 255, 1967 E.U.B. Discipline) As enacted by the General Conference of 1972, Paragraph 367 (1968, Par. 366) is the culmination of a process of harmonization that became effective first in 1968, was modified in 1970, and concluded with revision in 1972. The 1968 Discipline recognized the located elder to be a minister, and permitted him to exercise his orders as an ordained local minister in the charge in which he was located or in a charge to which he might be appointed temporarily. The legislation of 1970 permitted the located elder to designate the local church in which membership would be held, over against a previous regulation that membership must be in the place of residence. And the legislation of 1972 specifies that the exercise of ministerial functions shall be limited to the charge in which membership is held. The successive legislation of the years 1968-1972, then, does three things:1) it recognizes an elder who has been granted voluntary location to be a local elder with ministerial status: 2) it permits the elder to designate the localchurch in which membership is to be held; 3) it permits the elder to exercise ministerial functions in the charge, and only that charge, in which membership is held. Inasmuch as the elder on voluntary location may serve as a minister in the local church in which he holds membership, and provided that by due process he meets the requirements for the status of lay pastor (formerly called approved supply pastor in The Methodist Church, see footnote, Par. 307.3, 1968 Discipline ), he may be listed on the conference rolls and appointed to serve as a lay pastor. With respect to the answer to the second part of the question, it is to be noted that there is a difference between the duties of the district superintendent in the former The Methodist Church over against duties in The United Methodist Church. In the former The Methodist Church the district superintendent had among his duties the appointment of approved supply pastors during the intervals between conferences and in the absence of the bishop (Par. 362.3, 1964 Discipline). No such specific reference is made to this duty in the 1972 Discipline of The United Methodist Church. Moreover, the latter Discipline (Par. 391.9) clearly reserves to the bishop the duty of appointment, including that of an elder who has been located at his own request. It follows that although such an elder may serve as a lay pastor, he may not be subject to assignment (appointment) of the district superintendent.

Decision

An elder in full connection, who takes voluntary location under Paragraph 367, may be classified on the conference rolls and serve as lay pastor in a church to which he may be appointed, provided that by due process he meets qualifications for status of lay pastor. He is not subject to appointment by the district superintendent, appointment being the prerogative of the bishop.

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