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Decision No. 630

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October 26 1989
In Re: Appeal of Bishop's Decision in West Ohio Conference Concerning Involuntary Retirement of Ministerial Member.

Digest of Case

The Board of Ordained Ministry, the Cabinet, and the West Ohio Annual Conference acted in accordance with the Discipline in the action that an elder may be given an involuntary retirement under  453.3 of the 1984 Discipline.

Statement of Facts

In May of 1987, the Cabinet of the West Ohio Annual Conference recommended that Robert Mussman be placed in an Involuntary Retirement Relation to the Annual Conference in accordance with  453.3 of the 1984 Discipline (now 451.3). The Board of Ordained Ministry of the Conference affirmed the Cabinet recommendation and it was placed before the Executive Session of the 1987 Annual Conference but did not achieve the required two-thirds vote. Mr. Mussman was given the opportunity to speak. The recommendation of the Cabinet and the Board of Ordained Ministry was presented to the Executive Session meeting of the West Ohio Annual Conference on June 12, 1988, and a two-thirds majority vote was achieved. Mr. Mussman appeared before the Judicial Council at an open hearing in Williamsburg, Virginia on October 26, 1989. JURISDICTION The Judicial Council has jurisdiction under  2611 of the 1988 Discipline. ANALYSIS After the action outlined above, a continuous process with the District Superintendent, the Board of Ordained Ministry, and the Pastoral Review Committee worked to resolve the problems of Reverend Mussman. In all situations, he was given an opportunity to be heard and on March 11, 1988, the Cabinet approved an additional recommendation to the Board of Ordained Ministry that Reverend Mussman be involuntarily retired. At that time,  453.3 of the 1984 Discipline read as follows: Involuntary Retirement-"By a two-thirds vote of those present and voting, the ministerial members of the Annual Conference in full connection may place any ministerial members in the retired relation with or without their consent and irrespective of their age if such relation is recommended by the Board of Ordained Ministry and the Cabinet. Action toward involuntary retirement must be started at least ninety (90) days prior to Annual Conference. This process shall not preclude the rights to appeal and trial by any person so guaranteed by our Constitution." The only change in the current Discipline is a provision that written notice must be given to each such member by the Board of Ordained Ministry at least ninety days prior to Annual Conference. The Judicial Council has received a letter from the Secretary of the West Ohio Annual Conference dated September 6, 1989, stating that: At the West Ohio Annual Conference, June 1989, on a motion by the Chairman of the Board of Ordained Ministry, the Executive Session of the West Ohio Annual Conference granted by unanimous vote of the membership present and voting, approval for the appeal of Robert Mussman challenging the constitutionality under the Discipline of the ruling of Bishop Edsel A. Ammons to place him on involuntary retirement which was approved by the 1988 Executive Session of the West Ohio Annual Conference. We have not been provided with copies of the Conference Journal and are not sure of the wording of the motion made. It is not clear whether the Conference appealed its own action of its Executive Session, or appealed the ruling of the Presiding Bishop, or merely gave permission to Robert Mussman to file an appeal. Nevertheless, the Judicial Council had the benefit of a brief filed by Bishop Ammons, as well as an extensive statement by Robert Mussman and many attachments which were helpful to determine which procedures were followed. We find no instance in which any formal charges were filed against Robert Mussman and, therefore, there was no right to trial. It is clear that the procedure that was followed was under  453.3 of the 1984 Discipline and that this procedure was very carefully followed by everyone involved. Mr. Mussman was given ample time to respond in each case. Even Mr. Mussman's documents indicate that there was evidence that all agencies concerned as well as the bishop went to great length to protect Mr. Mussman's rights. See Decision No. 522.

Decision

The Board of Ordained Ministry, the Cabinet and the West Ohio Annual Conference acted in accordance with the Discipline in the action that an elder may be given an involuntary retirement under  453.3 of the 1984 Discipline.

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