Memorandum Number 1229


October 26, 2012

Request from the College of Bishops of the South Central Jurisdiction for a Declaratory Decision as to the Constitutionality, Meaning, Application, and Effect of ¶ 408.3a, with Reference to ¶¶ 16.5, 50, 358.3, and 362.2

The College of Bishops of the South Central Jurisdiction on June 17, 2012, voted to request a declaratory decision by the Judicial Council "on the constitutionality, meaning, application and effect of paragraph 408.3a." The request came before a hearing called by the South Central Jurisdiction Committee on Episcopacy regarding a hearing date that had been set for the consideration of involuntary retirement of a bishop from that jurisdiction. The authority for the consideration of involuntary retirement was ¶408.3(a) of the 2008 Discipline. In the College of Bishops' request for a declaratory decision the following questions were listed:

1. Is ¶ 408.3a in conflict with any part of the Constitution, particularly ¶¶ 50 and 16.5?
2. Since a Bishop retains status as an Elder, do the following paragraphs of the 2008 Book of Discipline have analogous implications? ¶ 358.3 (Speaks to the necessity for action by a body, i.e. Jurisdictional Conference, rather than simply a Committee or Board); ¶ 362.2 ( c) (Involuntary Retirement is a recommendation to a larger body, rather than an action of a smaller Committee or Board)
3. If there is no constitutional conflict, what procedures guide the Committee to ensure due process?
4. If there is a conflict with any part of the Constitution, what aspects of ¶ 408 provide a process by which the South Central Jurisdictional Conference and/or its Episcopacy Committee has the authority to place one of its bishops on retired status involuntarily?


Pursuant to ¶ 2608.2 the requisite number of votes needed for establishing unconstitutionality of ¶ 408.3(a) was not obtained. Hence ¶ 408.3(a) remains constitutional.

Beth Capen was absent. Sandra Lutz, first lay alternate, recused and did not participate in this decision.

Kurt Glassco, second lay alternate participated in this decision.


The Judicial Council has jurisdiction only as to question one pursuant to ¶ 2610 of the 2008 Discipline. The Judicial Council has as a fundamental principle that it will not answer moot and hypothetical questions. See Decision 33. Questions 2, 3, and 4 do not address a specific paragraph of the Discipline, which is a requirement for a declaratory decision. Regarding question five, the College of Bishops of the South Central Jurisdiction respectfully asked permission to withdraw the question; that request is granted.

United Methodist Communications is an agency of The United Methodist Church

©2023 United Methodist Communications. All Rights Reserved