Skip Navigation

Judicial Council Decisions Search


Decision No. 583

Back to Search

Share:

October 22 1987
In Re: Status, Relationship, and Amenability of a Local Deacon or a Local Elder Under Discipline ¶¶ 401-455 and 2620-2626.

Digest of Case

Local deacons and elders are lay persons, members of and accountable to a Charge Conference. Under the 1964 Discipline these persons were considered lay persons and this has not been changed. If they are under appointment by an Annual Conference, they are amenable to that Annual Conference with regard to any matters relating to that assignment. The local deacon or elder, as a lay person, is subject to the portions of the 1984 Discipline ¶ 2620-2626, which apply to charges against and trial of a lay person.

Statement of Facts

During the 1987 session, the Oklahoma Annual Conference adopted in both the ministerial executive and plenary sessions, without dissent, a motion requesting a declaratory decision as to the meaning, application and effect of ¶ 401 through 455, and 2620 through 2626 of the 1984 Discipline with regard to the status, relationship, and amenability of a local deacon or elder, specifically answering three questions: (1) Is a local deacon or elder a lay person orminister? (2) To what church body is a local deacon or elder directly accountable? (3) To what degree and in what manner is a local deacon or elder amenable to the Annual Conference? JURISDICTION The Judicial Council has jurisdiction under Discipline ¶ 2615. ANALYSIS A part of the confusion in the instant case results from changes in the Discipline which were not specifically dealt with by the merging General Conference of 1968 or the sessions in 1966 which preceded union. They also result from an attempt to accommodate the two merging denominations-the Methodist Church with its local deacons and the Evangelical United Brethren Church with its probationers and quarterly conference licensees. It is true that there is no reference in the Discipline since the Methodist Discipline of 1964 to "local deacons and elders" or to "local preachers" and intentionally so. The 1964 General Conference discontinued the practice of ordination to the office of local deacon or local elder while recognition of local orders from another denomination was still possible. In 1968 recognition of local orders was discontinued. Since 1968 the Discipline has contained no provision for local orders. It was the intention of the 1968 Uniting Conference, and of the Commission to Study the Ministry which reported to that conference and continued after union, to strengthen requirements for the ministry-comprised of deacons and elders-and either to move the former licensees in that direction or to have their number gradually be diminished by attrition. To respond specifically to the questions raised by the Oklahoma Annual Conference, we find that the phraseology "local deacon or local elder" is no longer a part of disciplinary language. They are lay persons and are members of and accountable to a Charge Conference. In the performance of their duties, if appointed to a charge, they are amenable to that Annual Conference (¶ 412.1), with regard to matters pertaining to that assignment.

Decision

Local deacons and elders are lay persons, members of and accountable to a Charge Conference. Under the 1964 Discipline these persons were considered lay persons and this has not been changed. If they are under appointment by an Annual Conference, they are amenable to that Annual Conference with regard to any matters relating to that assignment. The local deacon or elder, as a lay person, is subject to the portions of the 1984 Discipline ¶¶ 2620-2626, which apply to charges against the trial of a lay person.

Back to Search

Share: