Memorandum Number 790


October 24, 1996

Review of Bishop's Decision of Law in the Southwest Texas Conference on Whether Standards for Clergy in ¶ 420 of the 1992 Discipline May Be Applied to Lay Members of the Church.


The decision of Bishop Raymond H. Owen that the question asked was moot and hypothetical is affirmed.

Statement of Facts

On June 7, 1996, during the business session of the Southwest Texas Annual Conference a clergy delegate submitted a written request "for Episcopal Ruling," which read as follows:

Under the provision of Par. 2613 of The 1992 Book of Discipline, I request an episcopal ruling on the following question: "Can the standards for an ordained minister in Par. 420.1(8) of The 1992 Book of Discipline be applied at any or all levels to lay members of the Church."

Bishop Raymond H. Owen ruled that the request, since it was submitted as a "question of law" under ¶ 2613, was "an abstract question and hypothetical. The question does not set forth specific action taken or to be taken under stated facts of a particular situation or circumstance. Accordingly, as stated in Memorandum 762 of the Judicial Council, any answer 'would be either moot or merely informational.' "

In this case, the request for an episcopal decision was broadly drafted, was not raised during deliberation of any specific issue and did not state its connection to any specific action taken or to be taken by the Annual Conference. Therefore, the bishop is correct that his answer to this question would be merely informational.

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