Judicial Council Decisions Search
Decision No. 676
October 29 1992
In Re: Amenability of Ministers From Other Denominations Under Appointment in an Annual Conference.
Digest of Case
Ministers from other denominations while serving under appointment in an Annual Conference are amenable to the Annual Conference and to the procedures in Par. 453 in all matters of character and conduct.
Statement of Facts
In the 1992 session, the Western New York Conference adopted a motion to petition the Judicial Council for a "declaratory decision ... regarding the amenability of ministers from other denominations appointed to serve within an Annual Conference." The petition included two specific questions: 1. Do the procedures spelled out in Paragraph 453 of The Book of Discipline, 1988 ("Grievance Procedures") apply to ministers from other denominations serving within an Annual Conference? 2. Are ministers from other denominations serving within an Annual Conference amenable to any Disciplinary provisions and/or Annual Conference structures, other than ongoing supervision by the Cabinet (Paragraph 520) and annual approval by the clergy members in full connection upon recommendation of the Board of Ordained Ministry (Paragraph 426.2)? JURISDICTION The Judicial Council has jurisdiction under Par. 2615 of the 1988 Discipline. ANALYSIS Par. 426.2 sets forth the conditions under which ministers from other Christian denominations may be appointed in an Annual Conference. Upon appointment, they function in those appointments as United Methodist ministers. Par. 18 of the Constitution requires that "the General Conference shall not do away with the privilege of our ministers of right to trial by a committee and of appeal. . . ." The Discipline provides no process which may result in trial of a minister other than that in Par. 453. It becomes a part of the due process assured every minister. Of similar importance is the fact that it also provides the local church or other persons with the process by which they may initiate a grievance against a minister who has in some way failed to maintain proper ministerial character and conduct. Both aspects of Par. 453 are vitally important, assuring protection to both clergy and laity. Ministers from other denominations function as ministers of The United Methodist Church while under appointment. They must have agreed to "support and maintain United Methodist doctrine, discipline, and policy." (Par. 426.2) This agreement requires that they measure up to the same standards of character and conduct as required of all United Methodist clergy. The Discipline provides no special process by which ministers from other denominations may be held accountable for their faithfulness to their agreement while serving under appointment. Therefore, it must be concluded that they are included in Par. 453. They are assured of the constitutional right of due process and the Annual Conference is given a way by which they may be held accountable while under appointment. It should also be noted that approval is for one year at a time. Continued approval for service for clergy from other denominations involves a process of meeting with the Board of Ordained Ministry. Upon recommendation of the Board of Ordained Ministry, it is the clergy session of Annual Conference which decides whether the response is in good faith and satisfactory, and whether or not to approve that clergy for service annually under the appointment of the bishop. In addition, Par. 426.2 notes that clergy from other denominations are not granted the security of annual appointment. This means that the bishop, after consultation with the cabinet, can discontinue the appointment. Further, approval for service by the Board of Ordained Ministry does not mandate an appointment by the bishop.
Ministers from other denominations while serving under appointment in an Annual Conference are amenable to the Annual Conference for obedience to the same standards of character and conduct as those required of United Methodist clergy. They are included in the procedures in Par. 453, with the exception of those provisions which apply specifically to termination of conference membership or surrender of United Methodist ministerial credentials.