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Decision No. 778

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April 17 1996
In Re: Meaning, Application and Effect of Pars 270.2 and 735, With Specific Reference to Eligibility of Otherwise Qualified Spouse of A Bishop to Serve on the Jurisdictional Committee on Episcopacy.

Digest of Case

There is no disciplinary provision prohibiting an otherwise qualified spouse of a bishop from serving on the Jurisdictional Committee on Episcopacy. However, it would appear unwise for such spouse to serve on the Jurisdictional Committee on Episcopacy as such service could present a real or potential conflict of interest, or an appearance of impropriety.

Statement of Facts

The Pacific Northwest Conference has petitioned the Judicial Council for a declaratory decision interpreting the meaning, application and effect of Pars. 270.2 and 735, with specific reference to eligibility of an otherwise qualified spouse of a bishop to serve on the Jurisdictional Committee on Episcopacy. Jurisdiction The Judicial Council has jurisdiction under Par. 2616 of the 1992 Discipline. Analysis The Discipline is silent on the particular issue raised. Par. 623, which delineates the composition and responsibilities of the Jurisdictional Committee on Episcopacy, does not address this issue. Par. 270.2 pertains to the Pastor-Parish Relations (Staff Parish Relations) Committee of a local church or charge. Par. 270.2 pertains to the Conference Committee on the Episcopacy. Pars. 270.2 and 735 are instructive. Par. 270.2 prohibits an immediate family member of a pastor or staff member from serving on the Pastor-Parish Relations (Staff-Parish Relations) Committee. Similarly, Par. 735 prohibits immediate family members or the staff of any conference agency from serving on the Conference Committee on Episcopacy, with specified exceptions. The rationale f or the above cited prohibitions is that service on these respective committees by the prohibited individuals would present a real or potential conflict of interest. The same rationale would suggest that it would be unwise for an otherwise qualified spouse of a bishop to serve on the Jurisdictional Committee on Episcopacy. This and related issues are matters which the General Conference should address in specific legislation.

Decision

There is no disciplinary provision prohibiting an otherwise qualified spouse of a bishop from serving on the Jurisdictional Committee on Episcopacy. However, it would appear unwise for such spouse to serve on the Jurisdictional Committee on Episcopacy as such service could present a real or potential conflict of interest, or an appearance of impropriety. Tom Matheny, President Wayne Coffin, Secretary

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