Skip Navigation

Judicial Council Decisions Search


Decision No. 769

Back to Search

October 24 1995
In Re: Constitutionality, Meaning, Application, or Effect of Pars. 452.3, 705.6, and 452.2(d) of the 1992 Discipline.

Digest of Case

Under provisions of Pars. 452.3), 705.6, and 452.2(d), clergy members may be placed in the retired relation by vote of the full members of the Annual Conference who are present and voting in a convened clergy session of the Annual Conference. Retirements must become effective at the Annual Conference at which they are voted, or at a date following the Annual Conference which has been designated by the conference. The Annual Conference may not designate a retroactive date on which retirements may become effective. Therefore, any decision made by the New York Annual Conference by means of a mail ballot or for retroactive retirement is null and void and without effect.

Statement of Facts

This matter is before the Council in a request for a declaratory decision from the Judicial Council on two questions: 1) Is a mail ballot legal according to the Discipline, for retirement of a clergy person under charges of professional sexual misconduct as in the current New York Annual Conference case, or for any other proposed change of status of clergy under charges for any of the offenses listed in Paragraph 2623? 2) Does the Discipline allow for retroactive retirement, as was requested in the current New York Annual Conference case? [Paragraphs 705.6, 452.2(d)] The action was apparently set in motion by one bishop, who was later put on disability leave. It was then reported to this Council by Bishop James K. Mathews who was reinstated by the Council of Bishops to be resident bishop. Bishop Mathews was originally asked to make a decision but could not do so during the Annual Conference session. The session then voted to request a declaratory decision. In the rather scanty materials later provided to us, it was indicated that the presiding bishop declared the ballot legal although that is not in the information provided to us by the bishop himself. JURISDICTION The Judicial Council has jurisdiction under Par. 2616 of the 1992 Discipline . ANALYSIS Par. 452.3 of the 1992 Discipline is in the section of the Discipline which addresses changes of conference relations for full, probationary, and associate members. It deals specifically with involuntary retirement It reads in part: By two-thirds vote of those present and voting the clergy members in full connection may place any clergy members in the retired relation with or without their consent and irrespective of age if such relation is recommended by the Board of Ordained Ministry and the Cabinet. This paragraph of the Discipline indicates that for cause the full members in the clergy session who are present (emphasis added) and voting may, by two-thirds vote, place clergy members in the retired relation with or without their consent, so long as the fair process set forth in Par. 2622 is followed. This action takes place within the context of a convened clergy session of the Annual Conference. There is no provision in this paragraph, or elsewhere in the Discipline, for absentee voting or voting by mail ballot. Par. 705.6 of the 1992 Discipline states in part: Questions relating to matters of ordination, character, and conference relations shall be the business of the clergy session. Any matters, therefore, relating to ordination, character, and conference relations must be acted upon in this session. The actions of the clergy session are for and on behalf of the entire Annual Conference. Under provisions of Par. 452, clergy persons who are requesting retirement must make their requests known, in writing, to the bishop, Cabinet and Board of Ordained Ministry at least ninety days prior to the conference session at which retirement is to be effective. Par. 452.2(d) states: The Annual Conference, at its discretion, upon joint recommendation of the Board of Ordained Ministry and the Conference Board of Pensions, may designate any time within the ensuing (emphasis added) year as the effective date of an ordained minister who is placed in the retired relation under the provisions of sections 2b or 2c above. "Ensuing" is defined as "following as in course of time; following; coming after." There is no provision in this paragraph or in Par. 452.3 which allows for retroactive retirement.

Decision

Under provisions of Pars. 452.3, 705.6, and 452.2(d) clergy members may be placed in the retired relation by vote of the full members of the Annual Conference who are present and voting in a convened clergy session of the Annual Conference. Retirements must become effective at the Annual Conference at which they are voted, or at a date following the Annual Conference which has been designated by the conference. The Annual Conference may not designate a retroactive date on which retirements may become effective. Therefore, any decision made by the New York Annual Conference by means of a mail ballot or for retroactive retirement is null and void and without effect. This copy subject to final editing and correction.

Back to Search