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Decision No. 1076

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October 26 2007
In Re: Request for a Declaratory Decision by the West Michigan Annual Conference on the Meaning, Application and Effect of ¶¶ 319.2 and 663.6 of the 2004 Book of Discipline with request to the Vote Required for Continuance of a Local Pastor’s Licensing.

Digest of Case

There is no conflict in the voting requirements of ¶¶ 319.2 and 663.6 of the 2004 Book of Discipline. Paragraph 319.2 does not contain a stipulation regarding the number of votes required by the board of ordained ministry to approve a recommendation to the clergy session regarding the continuance or discontinuance of a local pastor. A simple majority vote is all that is required of the board of ordained ministry and the clergy session in approving the continuance or discontinuance of a local pastor’s license. Paragraph 663.6, requiring an individual written ballot and a three-fourths majority vote, applies only to the district committee on ordained ministry.

Statement of Facts

During the 2007 clergy session of the West Michigan Annual Conference, a clergy member requested a declaratory decision on ¶¶ 319.2 and 663.6 regarding the vote required for the continuance of a local pastor’s licensing. The confusion arose because of varying interpretations of ¶¶ 319.2 and 663.6 regarding the number of votes required to continue a local pastor’s licensing. The Conference Board of Ordained Ministry took an action contrary to the recommendation of the District Committee on Ordained Ministry regarding the continuance of a local pastor’s licensing. The Conference Board of Ordained Ministries’ action was approved by a simple majority vote. This resulted in some confusion regarding the vote, because some clergy members in reading ¶ 663.6 thought a three-fourths vote should be required. This confusion caused the clergy session to request a declaratory decision on ¶¶ 319.2 and 663.6 of the 2004 Discipline.

Jurisdiction

The Judicial Council has jurisdiction of ¶ 2610 under the 2004 Book of Discipline.

Analysis and Rationale

The disagreement over the number of votes required to continue or discontinue a local pastor’s licensing arose because some members of the clergy session thought the three-fourths vote required of the district committee on ordained ministry as stated in ¶ 663.6 should apply to the action of the conference board of ordained ministry. Paragraph 319.2 applies to the action of the clergy session. It states:

The clergy members in full connection of the annual conference may approve continuance of a local pastor after reference to and recommendation by its conference board of ordained ministry.

There is no stipulation for the number of votes required by the conference board of ordained ministry in making its recommendation to the clergy session nor is there any stipulation regarding the number of votes required by the clergy session in taking its action. Where there is no stipulation regarding the number of votes required, a simple majority vote is all that is necessary to approve an action. Paragraph 663 deals with the responsibilities of the district committee on ordained ministry. Paragraph 663.6, in specifying the method of voting and the number of votes required on all matters of candidacy, states:

The vote of the committee on all matters of candidacy shall be by individual written ballot, with a three-fourths majority vote of the committee present required for certification or approval or recommendation.

There is no conflict between ¶¶ 319.2 and 663.6 in the number of votes required to approve the continuance of a local pastor. Paragraph 319.2 deals with the vote of the clergy session. Paragraph 663.6 states the method and the number of votes by the district committee on ordained ministry for its recommendation to the conference board of ordained ministry for continuance of the license of a local pastor.

Decision

There is no conflict in the voting requirements of ¶¶ 319.2 and 663.6 of the 2004 Book of Discipline. Paragraph 319.2 does not contain a stipulation regarding the number of votes required by the board of ordained ministry to approve a recommendation to the clergy session regarding the continuance or discontinuance of a local pastor. A simple majority vote is all that is required of the board of ordained ministry and the clergy session in approving the continuance or discontinuance of a local pastor’s license. Paragraph 663.6, requiring an individual written ballot and a three-fourths majority vote, applies only to the district committee on ordained ministry. October 27, 2007 James W. Holsinger, Jr., Jon R. Gray and Shamwange P. Kyungu were absent. C. Rex Bevins, the first clergy alternate, and Solomon Christian, the first lay alternate, participated in this decision.

Decision

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