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Decision No. 405

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October 16 1975
In Re: Petition from the Louisiana Annual Conference for a Declaratory Decision as to the Right of an Annual Conference to Make a Decision Relative to Ministerial Classifications Without a Recommendation from the Board of the Ministry.

Digest of Case

The Board of the Ministry is required by the Discipline to make recommendations to the Annual Conference in regard to all matters of ministerial classifications. In the event the Board of the Ministry fails to make such recommendations, the Annual Conference has the right to take such action as is necessary.

Statement of Facts

The Louisiana Annual Conference in session at Shreveport, Louisiana on May 30, 1975 petitioned the Judicial Council to render a declaratory decision on the question: "Does the Annual Conference have a right to make a decision relativeto ministerial classifications if there has been no recommendation from the Board of the Ministry for such classifications?" JURISDICTION The Judicial Council has jurisdiction under Paragraph 1515 of the 1972 Discipline. ANALYSIS The resolution raises a question of "the right" of an Annual Conference to make a decision relative to ministerial classifications if there has been no recommendation from the Board of the Ministry for such classifications. Contrarily, the brief submitted by the Area Provost in behalf of the Board of the Ministry recognizes such a right, then goes on to ask rather "if such a procedure can be used to properly place a candidate's case before the conference." The Council assumes that the intention of the petition is to ascertain what is legal and also proper in a parliamentary sense with respect to an Annual Conference's taking action on matters of ministerial classification in the absence of a recommendation from the Board of the Ministry. Granted the assumption, a decision must take into consideration the following propositions, several of which applicable to the instant case were dealt with in our Decision No. 344 to which reference is made: 1. The Annual Conference is required by the Book of Discipline to elect a Board of the Ministry. (Par. 665.4) 2. The Board of the Ministry has certain Disciplinary duties including making and reporting recommendations in regard to ministerial classifications of all kinds to the Annual Conference (Par. 665.5 h, k[8]; and Pars. 323, 325, 326, 333). 3. The Board of the Ministry shall be directly amenable to the Annual Conference for its actions. (Par. 665.16) 4. The Annual Conference has the right to vote (Par. 37), and is the final voting authority (Judicial Council Decision No. 344) in matters of ministerial classifications. 5. The Annual Conference may vote to accept, change, or to reject a recommendation from the Board of the Ministry. (Judicial Council Decision No. 344) 6. The Annual Conference or the bishop may order an executive session of the ministerial members to consider questions relating to matters of ordination, character, and conference relationships. (Par. 663.5) The brief submitted supports a procedure whereby the Board of the Ministry may withhold a recommendation. Further, the brief assumes that all recommendations must be in the affirmative. However, the Board of the Ministry is duty bound to make a recommendation, positive or negative. And the suggestion that withholding may be interpreted as a negative recommendation is detrimental to due process. The Board of the Ministry cannot discharge its duty by withholding a recommendation as the brief declares to be necessary on occasion. Conversely, the board has not discharged its duty until it has made a recommendation for or against. Should the board fail to discharge its duty the Annual Conference or the bishop has the right, recourse, and responsibility to act without a recommendation through an executive session of the ministerial members. According to Paragraph 665.8: "The board shall examine all applicants (a) for employment as lay pastors and (b) for conference membership as to their fitness for the ministry, and shall make full inquiry as to the fitness of candidates for admission into full connection.... The board shall also report recommendations concerning: (a) candidates for ordination as deacons, (b) candidates for ordination as elders. (c) those to be received from other churches, (d) those to be transferred into the conference, and (e) students, not yet elders in full connection, to be appointed to attend school and assigned to a Charge Conference." In the event that any candidate in the above classifications has not been previously reported to the Annual Conference, a ministerial member may make a presentation. The conference is then under obligation to refer the case to the Board of the Ministry for a recommendation positive or negative, which the board in turn is obligated to report.

Decision

The Board of the Ministry is required by the Discipline to make recommendations to the Annual Conference in regard to all matters of ministerial classifications. In the event the Board of the Ministry fails to make such recommendations, the Annual Conference has the right to take such action as is necessary.

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