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Decision No. 652

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April 25 1991
In Re: Interpretation of ¶ 437.2(c) of the 1988 Discipline and Question 69 in The Business of The Annual Conference.

Digest of Case

The reference to eight years in ¶ 437.2(c) and Disciplinary Question 69 means the overall total of years, consecutive and nonconsecutive, under appointment to less than full-time service.

Statement of Facts

The Southern New England Conference in session June 6, 1990, voted to petition the Judicial Council for a declaratory decision "as to the proper interpretation of ¶ 437.2(c) and Disciplinary Question 69. . . . Clarification is being sought as to the meaning of 'total' and whether 'total' means the total years served consecutively or 'total' for entire pastoral career." JURISDICTION The Judicial Council has jurisdiction under Par. 2615 of the 1988 Discipline. ANALYSIS Par 437.2(c) provides that Reappointment to less than full-time service shall be requested by the ordained minister and approved annually by the bishop and Cabinet and shall not be granted for more than a total of eight years except by a three-fourths vote of the clergy members in full connection of the Annual Conference. Question 69, to be answered each as part of the business of the Annual Conference, includes: "what clergy members are approved for appointment to lessthan full-time service" and "what is the total number of years for which such approval has been granted to each?" In those sections of the Discipline which limit tenure, it is normally made quite clear if the intent is to count only consecutive years rather than overall total. Par. 518 limits the tenure of district superintendents in explicit fashion: "An elder may not be appointed a district superintendent for more thansix years in any consecutive nine years. No elder shall serve as district superintendent more than twelve years." Par. 810.3 is equally explicit: A voting member of a general agency shall be eligible for membership on that agency for no more than two consecutive four-year terms . A person who has been a voting member of general agencies for four consecutive quadrenniums shall be ineligible for election to a general agency in the succeeding quadrennium. Since there is no mention of consecutive years in ¶ 437.2(c), the intent is to limit less than full-time service to a maximum of eight years during one's clergy career (unless by a 3/4 vote the clergy members in full connection of the Annual Conference grant additional years). This career limit shall apply even if a person serves in more than one Annual Conference.

Decision

The reference to eight years in ¶ 437.2(c) and Disciplinary Question 69 means the overall total of years, consecutive and nonconsecutive, under appointment to less than full-time service.

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