Decision Number 368
Petition from Northwest Philippines Annual Conference for a Declaratory Decision Regarding the Authority of a Central Conference Bishop to Appoint a Minister as District Superintendent for More than Six Years in Any Consecutive Nine Years.
The "six year rule" for appointment of district superintendents set forth in Paragraph 391.3 of the Discipline is applicable only within the Jurisdictional Conferences of the United States.
Statement of Facts
The Northwest Philippines Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church during its 1972 regular session (June 11, 1972) voted unanimously to request a declaratory decision from the Judicial Council regarding the appointment of two ministers as district superintendents for the eighth consecutive year.
Material submitted with the petition indicates that in 1955 the Northwest Philippines Annual Conference adopted a resolution requesting the presiding bishop to appoint and reappoint the district superintendents for a term which shall not exceed four (4) consecutive years. However, the Judicial Council has not been asked to rule on the legality of that resolution.
Pertinent excerpts from the 1972 Conference Journal of the Northwest Philippines Annual Conference read:
"When the bishop appointed Revs. Isagani A. Curameng and Regino A. Aquinaldo as district superintendents for the eighth consecutive year the Conference
V-32. VOTED: To request a declaratory statement from the Judicial Council if a Central Conference Bishop can appoint a superintendent for more than six (6) consecutive years, and to direct the secretary to send the request, upon motion of Gregorio R. Bailen, duly seconded. The vote was unanimous in favor of the motion."
The Revs. Isagani A. Curameng and Regino A. Aguinaldo were appointed as district superintendents by Bishop Jose L. Valencia for the first time in 1965 and were reappointed yearly until the retirement of Bishop Valencia in 1968. The following year, and yearly thereafter, they were again appointed as district superintendents by the new presiding bishop, Paul Locke A. Granadosin. During the last session of the Northwest Philippines Annual Conference they were reappointed district superintendents for the eighth consecutive year.
The Judicial Council has jurisdiction under Paragraph 1515 of the 1972 Discipline.
Analysis and Rationale
The Constitution, Paragraph 58, 1972 Discipline, provides that:
"In each Annual Conference there shall be one or more district superintendents who shall assist the bishop in the administration of the Annual Conference and shall have such responsibilities and term of office as the General Conference may determine."
The General Conference has seen fit to place certain limitations upon bishops regarding the appointment of ministers to their places of work and responsibility. These limitations are set forth in Paragraph 391 of the 1972 Discipline. One of these limitations relates to appointment of district superintendents. Paragraph 391.3 states:
"The bishop shall choose and appoint district superintendents annually, but within the Jurisdictional Conferences of the United States no minister shall be appointed a district superintendent for more than six years in any consecutive nine years." (Emphasis added)
The limitation regarding the number of consecutive years for which a minister may be appointed a district superintendent as stated in Paragraph 391.3, quoted above, is clearly meant to apply only within the Jurisdictional Conferences of the United States. It cannot be held to apply to Central Conferences. It has been argued that the Discipline, Paragraph 399.2, gives to bishops in Central Conferences "authority similar to that exercised by bishops elected by or administering in a Jurisdictional Conference," and that therefore the limitations of Paragraph 391.3 apply to Central Conferences as a similar authority to that which is exercised in Jurisdictional Conferences. To argue thus would be to nullify specific legislative enactments of the General Conference. The General Conference has not legislated in the matter of the number of consecutive years that a minister may serve as a district superintendent in an Annual Conference, other than in the Annual Conferences within the Jurisdictional Conferences of the United States.
If no legislation placing restrictions on the number of years that a minister may serve as district superintendent is enacted, then the authority of appointment rests with the Central Conference bishop, for the same paragraph (391.3) states, "The bishop shall choose and appoint the district superintendents annually,..."
The provision of the Discipline that a bishop shall not appoint any minister a district superintendent for more than six years in any consecutive nine years (Par. 391.3) applies specifically and only within the Jurisdictional Conferences of the United States and therefore a Central Conference bishop is not limited by this restriction.