Decision Number 20
Pension Claim, Mrs. A. S. Gregg
The widow of a former member of a Conference of the Methodist voluntarily located under the then provisions, may not invoke the provision of voluntary locations, and therefore has he deceased located minister himself did not have.
Statement of Facts
The Rev. Albert Sidney Gregg, a member in good standing in the North-East Ohio Conference, was permitted to locate at his own request at the session of the Conference in September, 1927. This was a voluntary location. The Discipline of the Methodist Episcopal Church. 1932, repeated as Paragraph 505 of the Discipline of 1936, provided the manner whereby a minister involuntarily located might retain his right to an annuity on reaching the age of 65, as follows:
"Paragraph 505-Involuntary Location. Section 3. If such located person remains a member in good standing of the Methodist Episcopal Church until the age of sixty-five years, he shall thereby retain the right to make an annuity claim, based upon the years of his effective ministry' and subject to the action of the Annual Conference."
A. S. Gregg died before reaching the age of sixty-five. Later his widow made application for a pension on the ground that the provision of the 1936 Discipline applied to voluntary as well as involuntary location, and that whatever rights he had passed on to her at his death.
REQUEST FOR RULING
"On page 629 of the Journal of the North-East Ohio Conference for 1943, the following motion appears:
"On motion of C. W. Cooper, the Conference voted to reaffirm the following action taken two years ago:
" 'The Conference voted to remove the name of Albert Sidney Gregg from the list of those located, place his name in the list of those granted the retired relation, and among the deceased members of the Conference, in order that Mrs. Gregg may receive the pension which is due her for the years served by Brother Gregg previous to his location (see record, page 243, 1941 Journal); and to request the presiding Bishop to make a statement on the law in the case for inclusion in the Journal for presentation to the Judicial Council.'"
RULING OF THE BISHOP
The Bishop restated the question involved, and thereupon ruled on the same, which question and answer are as follows: "Question: Since the Rev. Albert S. Gregg, of the North-East Ohio Conference, who was in good standing in the Conference and located at his own request, September 11, 1927, died before he reached the age of 65, when he would have been entitled to ask for his pension for his effective years of service, does his widow have he right to ask for her pension as a preacher's widow when her husband would have be 65 had he lived?
"Answer: The widow of Albert S. Gregg has just claim for an annuity, and the Conference has the power to grant the same."
In ruling as above the presiding Bishop in this case relied upon and followed a ruling by the Board of Bishops of the Methodist Episcopal Church which was made in May, 1938 in another case in the North Dakota Conference wherein the facts were seemingly similar to those in the instant case Under the procedure of the former Methodist Episcopal Church such a ruling of the Board of Bishops would have been submitted to the next succeeding General Conference of that Church for affirmation or reversal on the Report o its Committee on the Judiciary. This ruling in the North Dakota case, however, was never so submitted as there was thereafter no General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and it therefore has no binding authority as a precedent even if the facts were similar.
It must be noted in the instant case, that even if the locate minister had reached the age of 65, on the record as it stood without further action, he would not have been eligible for annuity claim, as the Paragraph of the 1936 Discipline which has been invoked in behalf of his widow applied only to in voluntary location.
It follows, therefore, that the widow could have no right which the deceased located minister did not have at the time of his death, and as he had no claim, she has none.
The ruling of the Bishop is accordingly reversed.