Decision Number 310
Eligibility of Lay Persons for Membership on the Committee on Appeals of a Central Conference in the Trial of a Minister.
The Judicial Council upholds the episcopal ruling that only traveling elders are eligible for membership on the Committee on Appeals of a Central Conference.
Statement of Facts
At the meeting of the Philippines Central Conference on November 30, 1968 Bishops JosJ L. Valencia and James K. Mathews were asked by the Legislative Committee on Judicial Administration for a ruling as to whether persons other than traveling elders are eligible for membership on the Committee on Appeals.
The request was made in writing and the bishops answered in writing stating it as their ruling that only traveling elders are eligible for membership on the Committee on Appeals of a Central Conference.
The ruling properly comes before the Judicial Council for review under Paragraph 1712 of the 1968 Discipline.
Analysis and Rationale
In order to insure that there shall be due process whenever a member of the ministry or a lay member of the church is accused of violation of any church rule or regulation, the church has adopted procedures to guarantee such due process.
First there is the restrictive rule of the Constitution (Par. 18, 1968 Discipline) which states:
"The General Conference shall not do away with the privileges of our ministers or preachers of right to trial by a committee and of an appeal; neither shall it do away with the privileges of our members of right to trial before the church, or by a committee, and of an appeal."
So far as the Central Conferences are concerned the procedure is further delineated in Paragraph 30.7 which states that a Central Conference shall have authority "To appoint a Committee on Appeals to hear and determine the appeal of a traveling preacher of that Central Conference from the decision of a Committee on Trial."
Additional clarification is given to the matter in Paragraph 631.17 which reads as follows:
"A Central Conference shall have authority to adopt rules of procedure governing the investigation and trial of its ministers, including bishops, and lay members of the Church and to provide the necessary means and methods of implementing the said rules; provided, however, that the ministers shall not be deprived of the right of trial by a ministerial committee and lay members of the Church of the right of trial by a duly constituted committee of church members, and provided also that the rights of appeal shall be adequately safeguarded."
This paragraph in specific language states that a minister (traveling elder) is entitled to a trial by a ministerial committee. It also states that the right of appeal shall be adequately safeguarded. It has long been the practice within the church that when trials become necessary a minister is tried by a committee or court of ministers and a layman is tried by a committee of laymen. Specific provisions for this are made in the rules which govern the Annual Conferences and the Charge Conferences.
If then a traveling elder is to be judged by a committee of ministers and the purpose of the Committee on Appeals as stated in the Discipline is to hear appeals of traveling elders, it follows that the Committee on Appeals must be composed only of traveling elders.
The ruling of Bishops Valencia and Mathews is affirmed.