Issues of General Conference Action on Security of Appointment

6/20/2012

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June 20, 2012  Volume 1, Issue 9


 
Issues of General Conference Action on Security of Appointment
 
(Please note:  A PDF of this statement is available here for download.)
 
 
The General Board of Higher Education and Ministry has received many questions concerning the statement by General Conference Secretary Fitzgerald Reist that security of appointment was not removed. While it is not the agency's role to interpret the action of General Conference, we think it is helpful to outline the history of the legislation and factual information about the General Conference votes.
 
General Conference Secretary Fitzgerald Reist issued a statement that security of appointment is still in effect, since ¶334 in the Book of Discipline was not changed to mirror the changes to ¶337. The changes approved by the General Conference to ¶337 removed security of appointment.

The critical petitions relating to removing security of appointment were Petition No. 20303 (Calendar No. 355, ¶337) and Petition No. 20285 (Calendar No. 352, ¶321). Petition No. 20299 , which would have modified ¶334, dealt chiefly with early ordination, but also contained language concerning the appointment of elders.
 
What is the history of this legislation?
 
The recommendation and legislation to remove security of appointment for elders and associate members came from the 2009-2012 Study of Ministry Commission, charged by General Conference 2008 with reporting "to the 2012 General Conference with legislation addressing the issues before the Commission including the ordering of ministry, the separation of ordination and conference membership, and the streamlining of the process leading toward ordained ministry."
 
In that report, the Commission also proposed legislation changing ¶334 as part of a proposal allowing early ordination. That legislation was contained in Petition No. 20299.
 
April 28, 2012
On April 28, at 10:02 a.m., the Ministry and Higher Education Committee voted 68-7 (with eight members not voting), in favor of Petition No. 20303, which contained changes to ¶337 that eliminated security of appointment for elders. At 7:40 p.m. the same day, the committee voted 68-2 in favor of Petition No. 20285, which contained changes to ¶321, eliminating security of appointment for associate members.
 
On April 28, at 4:57 p.m. , the Ministry and Higher Education Legislative Committee voted 70-0 against Petition No. 20299, with two members not voting.
That vote meant the original language of ¶334 remained unchanged. The original language cited by Reist said: "Every effective elder in full connection who is in good standing shall be continued under appointment by the bishop. . ."
 
There was no General Conference plenary action on that petition.
 
May 1, 2012
On May 1 at 8:29 a.m. , in a plenary session, the changes to ¶ 337 and ¶321 contained in these petitions were approved on consent calendar A05, 889-20 (see Item Numbers 352 and 355)

A motion to reconsider Item Number 355 from Consent Calendar A05 failed by a vote of 564 to 373.

May 4, 2012
On May 4, General Conference delegates approved a motion to request a declaratory decision from the Judicial Council to decide if "removing guaranteed appointment to clergy violate (sic) either the third restrictive rule of the constitution under paragraph 19 by setting up a process that can do away with the authority of the episcopacy in our denomination and/or the fourth restrictive rule of the constitution, which is paragraph 20, by taking away a right of clergy without a hearing, trial, or resort to any form of appeal and/or in violation of historical precedence to the contrary." This motion passed by a vote of 397 to 341.

What now?
A statement issued by members of the Ministry and Higher Education Legislative Committee and the Study of Ministry Commission contends both the committee and General Conference voted to remove security of appointment.

That statement also said: "the issue of the relationship between paragraphs 334 and 337 is being considered by the Council of Bishops and we need to let them do their work."

"Any final conclusions about the constitutionality of the language or actions re. security of appointment would be premature until a ruling from the Judicial Council in Fall 2012.  The process needs to be allowed to move forward."
 
The Judicial Council's fall session is scheduled for Oct. 23-27.
 
The Rev. Kim Cape, GBHEM's General Secretary, said it is important to remember that the ministry legislation does not go into effect until January 2013, so there is time for these issues to be clarified by the Judicial Council. She urged caution in interpreting General Conference action.