Decision Number 111
Answer of a Candidate for the Traveling Ministry as to His Abstinence From the Use of Tobacco
The answer of a candidate for the traveling ministry to the question set out in Paragraph 321 (4) of the 1952 Discipline as to abstinence from the use of tobacco, in order to be satisfactory must be in the affirmative and without qualification.
Statement of Facts
This matter comes before the Judicial Council on the following action of the North-East Ohio Annual Conference taken on June 27, 1953:
"The North-East Ohio Annual Conference requests the Judicial Council to interpret what constitutes a "satisfactory written answer" to (4) in Paragraph 321 "are you willing to make a complete dedication of yourself to the highest ideals of the Christian ministry and bear witness to the same by your abstinence from the use of tobacco and other indulgences which may injure your influence, consecrating yourself to purity of life in body, in mind and in spirit?" e.g., is it "satisfactory" for a candidate to answer that he is willing to make a complete dedication of himself to the highest ideals of Christian ministry and to bear witness to the same by his abstinence from indulgences which may injure his influence, consecrating himself to purity of life in body, in mind, and in spirit, but that he objects to the singling out of tobacco as the only specific illustration of these "indulgences."
The above request of the North-East Ohio Annual Conference is a request for a Declaratory Decision and the Judicial Council has jurisdiction under Paragraph 914 (8) of the 1952 Discipline.
Analysis and Rationale
The candidate must deposit with the Conference Board of Ministerial Training and Qualifications in duplicate "satisfactory written answers" to certain questions, among which is that which has a clause pertaining to abstinence from the use of tobacco. The Discipline does not state to whom the answer must be satisfactory. Surely the candidate is not meant. If he were, there might be as many different answers as candidates. Nor can the particular Conference Board of Ministerial Training and Qualifications be meant. This would give rise to as many different answers as there are Conferences. This was a matter of General Conference concern and legislation and of uniform application. Those present at the 1952 General Conference, when a Minority Committee Report on this subject was substituted and adopted for the Majority Report, could not have any doubt as to the intent of the General Conference. That intent was that the answer of the candidate should be in the affirmative without equivocation or reservation, either mental or expressed. Attention is further directed to Paragraph 675 (2a) of the 1952 Discipline providing that before the ballot for licensing a person to preach is taken he shall have agreed to the conditions set forth in Paragraph 304 (4), which are the same as Paragraph 321 (4). The application of the requirement of abstinence from the use of tobacco is not different in the case of an applicant for a license to preach than in the case of a candidate for the traveling ministry.
It is therefore the Decision of the Judicial Council that a satisfactory written answer to said Paragraph 321 (4) of the 1952 Discipline is an unequivocal affirmative answer to the disciplinary question as stated. The suggested answer on which the opinion is requested is not satisfactory.