Decision Number 556
Meaning, Application and Effect of Discipline Par. 532.5(b)2 in Relation to the Process of Appointment-making in a Cooperative Parish.
Discipline Par. 532.5(b)2 requires the bishop and cabinet to consult with the coordinator or director of the cooperative ministry or with a representative of the staff of the cooperative ministry concerning the prospective appointment to any Cooperative Parish.
Statement of Facts
The 1985 session of the West Virginia Annual Conference voted to request a declaratory decision as to the meaning, application and effect of Par. 532.,5(b)2 of the 1984 Discipline in relation to the Cooperative Parish structure of the West Virginia Annual Conference.
The West Virginia Annual Conference has for several years addressed the need and implementation of the Cooperative Parish. Careful consideration is given to structure and leadership. The Conference cooperative parishes in most cases function under the definition of Par. 206.3(b):
Multiple charge parish: An intentionally organized group of two or more pastoral charges in which each church continues to relate to its Charge Conference on the organizational level and also participates in a parish-wide council. The ministers are appointed to the charges and also to the parish, and a director or coordinator appointed by the bishop.
The request questions the necessity for the coordinators of the parish to be involved in the consultation process.
The point is made that the coordinator appointed by the bishop does not have supervisory authority, nor are other pastors of the parish accountable to the coordinator in the same way they are to the district superintendent. Therefore, the contention is that Par. 532.5(b)2 does not apply.
The conference feels that the Discipline reference should be confined to those situations where there is an appointed director in a larger parish as described in Par. 206.3(a).
The Judicial Council has jurisdiction under Discipline Par 2615.
Analysis and Rationale
The question is asked as to how the bishop and cabinet should proceed in making appointments to the churches and charges in the West Virginia Annual Conference. In this conference all churches have been made a part of some form of Cooperative Parish. Par. 532.5(b) of the 1984 Discipline reads:
If the appointment is to a Cooperative Parish Ministry, or to charge which is a part of a Cooperative Parish Ministry, the following shall be included in the consultation process.
(1) The prospective appointee shall be informed prior to the appointment that the charge under consideration is part of a Cooperative Parish Ministry.
(2) The coordinator or director for the cooperative parish ministry, or, if there is no coordinator or director, a representative of the staff of the cooperative ministry, shall be conferred with concerning the prospective a appointment and shall have the opportunity to meet with the prospective appointee prior to the appointment being made.
The West Virginia Annual Conference makes the argument that most of its cooperative parishes function under the definition in Par. 206.3(b).
They further argue that their cooperative parishes are not highly structured with additional paid staff in most instances. The coordinators are under appointment to local churches or charges where they serve as pastors. They have neither supervisory authority, such as resides in the district superintendent's office, nor are other pastors accountable to them in the same way they are to the district superintendent. Two important ingredients, supervisory responsibility and amenability, are not a part of the cooperative parish arrangement in the West Virginia Annual Conference.
The conference has no problem in complying with Par. 532.5(b) 1 but asserts that its parishes are not so highly organized as to require compliance with Par. 532.5(b)2.
We would agree with its position if the paragraph in question did not include the phrase, "or, it there is no coordinator or director . . . ."
If the General Conference had intended to exclude the more loosely organized cooperative parishes it would not have added the alternative wording, "a representative of the staff of the cooperative ministry."
This legislation was added in order to insure input during the consultation process by at least some person currently serving as part of the leadership in the cooperative parish to which a new appointment is to be made.
In making an appointment to a Cooperative Parish of any type, the bishop and cabinet shall confer with the coordinator or director or a representative of the staff of the Cooperative Parish.