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Decision No. 678

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October 29 1992
In Re: Authority of Annual Conference to Approve a Candidate Who Has Not Met the Requirements.

Digest of Case

Cabinet recommendation is required for reinstatement as a ministerial member of an Annual Conference under the circumstances in this case. A motion to approve a candidate who has not met that requirement is out of order.

Statement of Facts

In 1987, Chandler D. Wolf, an elder in full connection in the Western Pennsylvania Conference, withdrew under charges. At the 1992 session of that Annual Conference, a motion was made to place Wolf's name on the list of persons approved for appointment as full-time local pastors. Though the motion made no mention of readmission to full membership in the conference, the record shows that he had been recommended for readmission by the Erie-Meadville District Committee on Ordained Ministry, but was not recommended by the cabinet, as is required under Par. 456 of the 1988 Discipline. There was no recommendation from the Conference Board of Ordained Ministry. The presiding bishop, George W. Bashore, ruled the motion out of order since "provisions for readmission after surrender of the ministerial office ... were not fulfilled." By vote of the Annual Conference, the bishop's ruling was appealed to the Judicial Council. JURISDICTION The Judicial Council has jurisdiction under Par. 2611 of the 1988 Discipline. ANALYSIS In considering the bishop's ruling, it must be kept in mind that the motion was not for readmission, but for inclusion on the list of persons approved for appointment as full-time local pastors. The Discipline does not specify the requirements for approval as local pastor of a person who has withdrawn from conference membership under charges. Par. 410.4 does include provisions for reinstatement of a person previously discontinued as a local pastor. One of those requirements is approval by the cabinet. The circumstances are sufficiently analogous to support the conclusion that cabinet recommendation is also required to be approved as local pastor one who had withdrawn from conference membership under charges, as in the case before us. Petitioners raised the issue of the constitutional right of the ministerial members of an Annual Conference to determine "all matters relating to the character and conference relations of its ministerial members." This right has repeatedly been upheld in previous Judicial Council decisions. No person may become a ministerial member of an Annual Conference and no person's ministerial membership may be involuntarily terminated except by vote of the ministerial members. This does not mean that the Annual Conference must vote on every person who might be proposed by someone as a possible candidate. The conference does have the right to vote on any candidate who has met the requirements, and has the right to know whether any candidate has or has not met the requirements. In this case, it had been determined that the candidate lacked the required recommendation of the cabinet and therefore was not eligible for consideration. Par. 423 gives to the Annual Conference the power to determine ministerial membership regardless of the recommendation of its Board of Ordained Ministry. There is no similar provision authorizing a conference to overrule a negative recommendation by the cabinet in matters of readmission under the circumstances in this case. Given those circumstances, the motion was out of order and was properly ruled so by the presiding bishop. Decision No. 650 of the Judicial Council holds that requirements for admission to conference membership may not be waived and that an Annual Conference may not vote to admit a candidate who has not met all of those requirements. Since a full-time local pastor becomes a ministerial member, that decision is relevant to the present case.

Decision

Cabinet recommendation is required for reinstatement as a ministerial member of an Annual Conference under the circumstances in this case. A motion to approve a candidate who has not met that requirement is out of order. The decision of the bishop is affirmed.

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