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Decision No. 572

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October 23 1986
In Re: The Effect of the 1984 Disciplinary Requirements on the Right of an Annual Conference to Equate Years of Part-Time Service to Full-Time Service.

Digest of Case

An Annual Conference, by vote of its ministerial members in full connection and upon recommendation of its Board of Ordained Ministry, has the authority to equate part-time service, to the disciplinary requirement of full-time service for admission to an Annual Conference. This is not in conflict with 408 of the Discipline.

Statement of Facts

The Wyoming Annual Conference received requests from two part-time local pastors who wished to apply for associate membership in the Conference. Based on our Decision No. 343 the Conference did elect one of these persons, with thirty years of part-time service, to associate membership in the year 1986. The Wyoming Conference requested a declaratory decision on the effect of the 1984 disciplinary requirements on the right of an Annual Conference to equate years of part-time service to full-time service. Revs. William Lawrence and Bruce J. Gallup of the Wyoming Annual Conference appeared at the oral hearings on October 23, 1986 at Duke University. JURISDICTION The Judicial Council has jurisdiction under 2615 of the 1984 Discipline. ANALYSIS In Decision No. 343 the Council ruled, The ministerial members of an Annual Conference may vote into associate membership a lay pastor who meets all of the disciplinary requirements for associate membership except four years of full-time service if it makes the factual determination that a sufficiently longer time term of part-time service equates to the required years of full-time service. The Wyoming Annual Conference raised the question of additions to the Discipline in 408.1(b) and 408.1(c) which state: 408.1(b) ... who may devote their entire time to the church in the charge to which they are appointed and its outreach in ministry and mission to the community; 408.1 (c) ... who receive in cash support per annum from all church sources a sum equivalent to not less than the minimum salary established by the Annual Conference for full-time local pastors; We hold that the above changes do not change our Decision 343 which stated: [It is].... within the authority of an Annual Conference to make a judgment, as this conference has done, that the disciplinary requirements of four years as a full-time lay pastor; as a requirement for Associate Membership was met by one year of full-time service and many years of part-time service. Whether the service in this instance was an equivalent is basically a question of fact and judgment to be determined on a case by case basis in light of the years of the service involved, the quality of that service, the maturity of the applicant and all other factors that would be normally relevant.

Decision

An Annual Conference, by vote of its ministerial members in full connection and upon recommendation of its Board of Ordained Ministry, has the authority to admit to conference membership a candidate who has given full or part-time service, which the conference equates to the disciplinary requirements of full-time service. This is not in conflict with 408 of the Discipline, nor is Decision 343.

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