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Decision No. 1152
May 21 2010
In Re: Review of a Bishop’s Decision of Law in the Middle Philippines Annual Conference Regarding the Designation of the Site of an Annual Conference Session Pursuant to ¶ 603.3
Digest of Case
The Wesleyan University Philippines site of the Middle Philippines Annual Conference was validly chosen and designated by a majority of the district superintendents with the consent of the bishop in charge. Any purported Annual Conference actions taken outside of said Wesleyan University Philippines session are null, void, and of no effect. The bishop’s decision of law is affirmed.
Statement of Facts
On January 6, 2010, the district superintendents of the Middle Philippines Annual Conference met as a committee to select the site of the 2010 regular session of the Annual Conference scheduled for February 22-25, 2010. Unidentified conference lay persons also were present at the meeting during which the Carmen United Methodist Church was chosen as the proposed site. An announcement of the location was published (along with a listing of the sites of other annual conferences) in MEALAB, the official publication of the Manila Episcopal Area, in its January-March 2010 issue (volume 2, number 1, page 14). On January 20, 2010, Bishop Daniel C. Arichea, Jr. was assigned as the presiding bishop of the Middle Philippines Annual Conference. Bishop Arichea met with the district superintendents on February 3, 2010. The superintendents agreed and the bishop consented that the Annual Conference session would be held at Wesleyan University Philippines. On or about February 5, 2010, the bishop received a letter from the Annual Conference lay leader that stated that all of the district superintendents and lay leaders of the Annual Conference had agreed that the venue for the February 2010 regular session of the Annual Conference would be Carmen United Methodist Church. That letter “humbly requests the Most Reverend Daniel C. Arichea for his consideration and approval” of the Carmen United Methodist Church site. Hence, the Lay Leader’s own words recognize that the consent of the bishop was necessary before any change could be made. The bishop requested comments from the district superintendents, and between February 5 and February 8, he received none. None of the district superintendents attended a meeting of the cabinet that was scheduled for February 8, 2010. The bishop never consented to a change from the Wesleyan University Philippines location. On February 11, 2010, the bishop notified the four district superintendents that he was invoking ¶ 603.3 of the 2008 Discipline which states that the venue of an annual conference can only be changed by a majority of the district superintendents with the consent of the bishop. The bishop stated that since he had not heard back from them, the venue of the annual conference would remain Wesleyan University Philippines as previously agreed. He then appointed four new district superintendents to serve immediately “up to Conference time when the regular appointments are made.” On February 18, 2010, three of the four district superintendents met with Bishop Arichea and supported the decision to have the annual conference session at the Wesleyan University Philippines. During the 2010 regular session of the Annual Conference, a clergy member of the conference requested a bishop’s decision of law regarding “the status of the annual conference session being concurrently held at Carmen UMC, Carmen Zaragoza.” The bishop published his decision of law on the same day that the request was made. In doing so, he provided both the substance of his decision and a summary of the ruling. His summary follows:
1. In pursuance with paragraph 603.3, the official approved venue of the 2010 Annual Conference session is Wesleyan University Philippines. 2. The sessions being held in Carmen are a violation of the Book of Discipline, and any actions taken there, including appointments do not have any validity. 3. The act of the Carmen session in electing an elder as president pro tempore is a violation of paragraph 603.6.
The Wesleyan University Philippines site of the Middle Philippines Annual Conference was validly chosen and designated by a majority of the district superintendents with the consent of the bishop in charge. Any purported Annual Conference actions taken outside of said Wesleyan University Philippines session are null, void, and of no effect. The bishop’s decision of law is affirmed. Dennis L. Blackwell was absent. Ruben T. Reyes recused himself and did not participate in any of the proceedings related to this decision. Jay Arthur Garrison, first lay alternate, participated in this decision. May 22, 2010