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Decision No. 780

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April 21 1996
In Re: Reconsideration of Decision 754.

Digest of Case

In regard to Par. 457, Bishop Sharon A. Brown Christopher ruled correctly. The Disciplinary process for readmission under Par. 457 cannot be waived. A motion or Par. 457 cannot be waived. A motion or action in the clergy session which has the effect of circumventing this process in Par. 457 is improper and out of order. The bishop's decision of law is affirmed, and anything to the contrary in Decision 754 is reversed. Tom Matheny, President Wayne Coffin, Secretary

Statement of Facts

The request for reconsideration of Decision 754 is granted in light of the new information included with that request from Bishop Sharon A. Brown Christopher of the Minnesota Area. The information not previously provided clarified that the clergy member had no written complaint filed against him at the time he made written request to withdraw by surrender of ministerial office. The Council now determines that the ruling did apply to the case in question, and anything to the contrary in Decision 754 is reversed. The bishop's ruling in its entirety is affirmed. The letter signed by the clergy member clearly states his intention to surrender the ministerial office under Par. 452 of the 1988 Discipline. The ruling in this situation originated from a request for a decision of law during the June 1995 Annual Conference which stated: May an Annual Conference be prevented from voting on a motion to grant voluntary leave of absence to a person who had surrendered credentials when the 1988 Discipline was in effect and in response to a grievance alleging an occurrence of misconduct more than two years prior to the filing of the grievance? The bishop's ruling and the additional information clarified that the question of law related to a specific situation. The ruling properly focused on the conference membership status of the clergy person. The clergy member made a written request to surrender the ministerial office as a member in good standing. The bishop stated the following regarding the June 26, 1995 ruling: . . . I ruled that a motion to grant voluntary leave of absence by the Executive Session was not in order. Par. 457 stating the procedure for readmission after surrender of the ministerial office is applicable in this situation and remedy is available to the pastor. From the data it is concluded that the clergy person had previously surrendered the ministerial office. Therefore, the clergy person could not be considered at the June 1995 session for voluntary leave of absence without readmission to conference membership under Par. 457 dealing with readmission after surrender of the ministerial office.

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