Skip Navigation

Judicial Council Decisions Search


Decision No. 498

Back to Search

Share:

April 23 1981
In Re: Constitutionality of Temporary Suspension of an Elder from Ministerial Responsibilities,Pending Trial, Upon Recommendation of Committee on Investigation, under Par. 2623.3(e).

Digest of Case

It is constitutionally permissible for a Bishop to suspend temporarily an elder from all ministerial responsibilities, pending trial, if such recommendation is made by five or more of the seven elders constituting the Committee on Investigation of the Annual Conference.

Statement of Facts

The 1980 General Conference adopted legislation, placed in Par. 2523.3(c) providing that "in exceptional circumstances, the presiding bishop may, with the unanimous concurrence of the district superintendents, suspend the accused from all ministerial responsibilities pending investigation." This legislation was referred by the General Conference to the Judicial Council for a declaratory decision. It was found to be unconstitutional in that "authority over conference relations rests squarely with the ministerial members of the Annual Conference rather than with the bishop." (See Decision No. 486) The Council of Bishops has requested the Judicial Council "to review its decision No. 486, dealing with Par. 2623.3(c) of the 1980 Book of Discipline, especially as this decision relates by implication to Par. 2623.3(e) of the 1980 Book of Discipline ." JURISDICTION The Judicial Council has jurisdiction under Par. 2515 of the 1976 Discipline (Par. 2615, 1980 Discipline). ANALYSIS We find no reason to reconsider Decision No. 486. Subparagraph (e) is distinguishable from subparagraph (c) and not subject to the same invalidity. Subparagraph (e) becomes operative only after an accusation has been made and the matter has been referred to the Committee on Investigation which is composed of elders elected by the Annual Conference and responsible to it. (Par. 2623.3(a)) Suspension is authorized only upon recommendation of at least five of the seven members of the Committee. We are mindful of Par. 37 of the Constitution which reserves to the Annual Conference the right of vote on all matters relating to the character and Conference relationship of its ministers. On the other hand we recognize there ordinarily is an interval of a year between sessions of the Annual Conference. The General Conference obviously envisaged the possibility of an emergency situation and the need for temporary suspension between sessions of the Annual Conference. Any such suspension must be reported to the Annual Conference at its next session and cannot longer remain in effect except by action of the Conference itself. Subject to such safeguards the provision is valid.

Decision

It is constitutionally permissible for a Bishop to suspend temporarily an elder from all ministerial responsibilities, pending trial, if such recommendation is made by five or more of the seven elders constituting the Committee on Investigation of the Annual Conference.

Back to Search

Share: