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Decision No. 1195

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October 27 2011
In Re: REVIEW OF A BISHOP’S DECISION OF LAW IN THE PALAWAN PHILIPPINES ANNUAL CONFERENCE REGARDING THE LEGALITY OF THE VENUE, COMPOSITION, ACTIONS AND DECISIONS OF THE SESSION, INCLUDING THE ELECTION OF DELEGATES TO GENERAL AND CENTRAL CONFERENCES

Digest of Case

The Brookes Point site of the 2011 Palawan Philippines Annual Conference was validly chosen and designated. All actions of said Annual Conference session are valid including the venue, composition, and decisions of the session, including the appointments and the election of delegates to General and Central Conference. Any purported Annual Conference actions taken outside of said Brookes Point session are null, void and of no effect. The bishop’s decision of law is affirmed.

STATEMENT OF FACTS
During the 2011 session of the Palawan Philippines Annual Conference, Bishop Daniel C. Arichea, Jr., received the following request for a bishop’s decision of law:
I move that the Palawan Philippines Annual Conference now holding its 22nd Annual Session at Brookes Point, Palayan, March 9-11, 2011, requests the Bishop Daniel C. Arichea, Jr. presiding over this Annual Regular Conference Session to make a ruling of law as to legality of the venue, composition, actions/decisions made including Elections of Clergy and Lay Delegates to the General and Central Conferences, pursuant to Section IX, Paragraph 601 of the 2008 UMC Book of Discipline, in view of the Episcopal Power to make a ruling of law as provided in ¶ 2609.6 of the 2008 UMC Book of Discipline.
The bishop rendered his decision of law in writing on March 9, 2011. The relevant portion of the bishop’s ruling is set forth:
My ruling is this: The only legitimate Annual Conference session of the Palawan Philippines Annual Conference for 2011 is that being held at Brookes Point United Methodist Church on March 9-11, 2011. All actions of this conference are valid for the Annual Conference and for the whole church. These actions include election of delegates to both the General Conference and the Central Conference. Any other conference purporting to be a session of Palawan Philippines Annual Conference is being conducted contrary to our rules as contained in the Book of Discipline, and any actions thereof, such as election of delegates to General Conference and Central Conference, appointments and ordinations, are null and void.
JURISDICTION
The Judicial Council has jurisdiction pursuant to ¶2609 of the 2008 Discipline.
ANALYSIS & RATIONALE
The bishop’s decision of law presents as a further unfortunate set of circumstances and series of events in the Philippines Central Conference centering upon the processing of complaints against and the status of a suspended bishop. By action of the Council of Bishops, the assigned bishop was suspended from episcopal duties for the period January 20, 2011 through March 19, 2011. Bishop Daniel Arichea was assigned to fulfill all episcopal duties in the Manila Episcopal Area. The Palawan Philippines Annual Conference was convened March 9-11, 2011, with Bishop Daniel Arichea presiding. The lawful venue of the Palawan Philippines Annual Conference was at Brookes Point United Methodist Church, in Brookes Point, Palawan, on March 9-11, 2011. The Brookes Point site of the 2011 Palawan Annual Conference was validly chosen and designated. Any purported Annual Conference actions taken outside of said Brookes Point session are null, void, and of no effect. No bishop other than Bishop Daniel Arichea had any authority to convene the Annual Conference. The bishop’s decision of law is affirmed.

Decision

The Brookes Point site of the 2011 Palawan Philippines Annual Conference was validly chosen and designated. All actions of said Annual Conference session are valid including the venue, composition, and decisions of the session, including the appointments and the election of delegates to General and Central Conference. Any purported Annual Conference actions taken outside of said Brookes Point session are null, void, and of no effect. The bishop’s decision of law is affirmed. Ruben T. Reyes recused himself and did not participate in the deliberation.

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