Decision Number 500
Limitations of the Pastor's Ex-officio Status as Defined in Discipline Par. 253.
The pastor of a local church is not an ex-officio member of the Board of Trustees or the Pastor-Parish Relations Committee of the local church
Statement of Facts
The West Virginia Annual Conference in session on June 12, 1981 voted to request a declaratory decision on the meaning of Discipline Par. 253 and the limitations on the pastor as ex-officio member.
The Judicial Council has jurisdiction under Par. 2615 of the Discipline.
Analysis and Rationale
Par. 253 of the Discipline states that "The pastor shall be the administrative officer, and as such shall be an ex-officio member of all conferences, boards, councils, commissions, committees, and task forces, unless restricted by the Discipline."
The question raised is related to the problem of the pastor as ex-officio member of the local church Board of Trustees and Pastor-Parish Relations Committee.
Membership on the Pastor-Parish Relations Committee is defined in Par. 266.2 of the Discipline and includes the restriction that "No staff member or immediate family member of a pastor or staff member may serve on the committee". Therefore the pastor is not a member.
Discipline Pars. 2519 and 2520 give specific instructions as to membership on and election to a local church Board of Trustees.
Since the pastor is not added to the Board of Trustees in the legislation defining membership we conclude that the pastor is not a voting member. As the church's administrative officer the pastor meets with the Board of Trustees but would be entitled to vote only if elected to the Board.
The pastor of a local church is not an ex-officio member of either the Board of Trustees or the Pastor-Parish Relations Committee of the local church.
We agree with the majority that Par. 253 makes the pastor an ex-officio member of all boards, commissions, committees, etc. unless restricted by the Discipline, and that Par. 266.2 excludes the pastor from membership on the Pastor-Parish Relations Committee. With respect to the Board of Trustees, however, we find nowhere in the Discipline any provision excluding the pastor from ex-officio membership.
The majority say that because the pastor is not named in the legislation defining membership of the Board of Trustees the pastor is not a voting member unless elected. If the pastor must be elected to a board, council, commission etc. in order to have the right to vote, the last sentence of Par. 253 means nothing. We believe it means just what it says, and that by reason thereof the pastor is a member of all such organizations of the local church unless restricted by the Discipline. The Discipline does exclude the pastor from membership on the Pastor-Parish Relations Committee. It does not restrict membership of the pastor on the Board of Trustees.
Tom Matheny Leonard D. Slutz