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Decision No. 552

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October 24 1985
In Re: Ministerial Relationships to Annual Conferences as Defined in Pars. 36, 421, and 422 as Related to Pars. 454.4 and 458 of the 1984 Discipline.

Digest of Case

Ministers who voluntarily surrender their credentials to the Annual Conference and later seek readmission to the ministry of the church, must seek readmission to the Annual Conference, or its legal successor, to which such surrender was made.

Statement of Facts

At the 1985 session of the West Virginia Annual Conference request was made for a declaratory decision as follows: Determine and clarify the meaning of Paragraphs 36, 421-22 as they relate to Paragraphs 454.4 and 458 of the 1984 Book of Discipline. JURISDICTION The Judicial Council has jurisdiction under Par. 2615 of the 1984 Discipline. ANALYSIS The question being raised by the West Virginia Conference is whether the Discipline grants authority to an Annual Conference, through its Board of Ordained Ministry to grant admission into Associate Membership, with restoration of orders, of a candidate, whose ministerial relationship and credentials with another Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church have been voluntarily terminated by surrender, rather than requiring the candidate to be readmitted by the former Annual Conference and transferred by the consenting bishops involved. Pars. 36, 421 and 422 each speak of the Annual Conference as the basic unit of the church in which its ministry holds membership, and of the special covenant among them. Par. 454.4 addresses the surrender of one's ministerial office. It indicates that: Associate members or members in full connection of an Annual Conference in good standing who desire to surrender their ministerial office and withdraw from the conference may be allowed to do so by the Annual Conference at its session. The minister's credentials shall be surrendered to the district superintendent for deposit with the secretary of the conference,... Par. 458 deals with readmission and states: Ministers who have surrendered the ministerial office under the provisions of Par. 454.4, .5, .6 to an Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church or one of its legal predecessors may be readmitted by the Annual Conference in which they held previously such membership and to which they surrendered the ministerial office or its legal successor or the Annual Conference of which the major portion of the former conference is a part ... It is clear that the intention of the Discipline provides for readmission following surrender to that Annual Conference only, or to its legal successor. The intent of the Discipline is that the body to which ministers surrender credentials should have the opportunity to review not only their qualifications but the circumstances relating to the surrender of their ministerial office. We see no conflict with Par. 36. The General Conference has delegated to the original Annual Conference the right to determine readmission, thus that right has effectively been denied to any other Annual Conference.

Decision

Ministers who voluntarily surrender their credentials to the Annual Conference and later seek readmission to the ministry of the church, must seek readmission to the Annual Conference, or its legal successor, to which such surrender was made.

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