Memorandum Number 578


April 23, 1987

Petition from the Executive Committee of the South Central Jurisdiction for a Declaratory Decision Concerning the Constitutionality, Meaning, Application or Effect of the 1984 Discipline Pars. 509.1(a) and 453.1 as They Affect Mandatory Age Retirement for Bishops and Pastors.


The Executive Committee of the South Central Jurisdiction does not have authority under the Discipline to bring this matter to the Judicial Council. Thus, the Judicial Council does not have jurisdiction. Nonetheless, to assist others who may properly bring issues to the Judicial Council we make the following comments:

At issue is whether it is unconstitutional to have different requirements in the legislation for the retirement of ordained ministers and bishops. This has been ruled on a number of times-most recently in Decision No. 413. There we held the constitution makes no requirement that the rules for the retirement of bishops be the same as those governing the retirement of other ordained ministers. The constitutionality of disciplinary provisions fixing the retirement age of ministers has also been upheld by the Judicial Council. See Decision No. 4 and 165. We note no argument or reasons were presented to us as to why either Par. 509.1(a) or Par. 453.1 should be held unconstitutional.

The Executive Committee also requested our ruling as to the "meaning, application, or effect of the Book of Discipline in reference to Paragraph 509.1-a and Paragraph 453.1." Par. 509.l(a) concerns the mandatory retirement of bishops while Par. 453.1 concerns the mandatory retirement of ministerial members of an annual conference. Again, we note no arguments or reasons were given by the Executive Committee in its petition as to any ambiguity which might exist in this language of the Discipline nor was any question raised as to its application and effect. The language in Pars. 509.l(a) and 453.1 is clear and unambiguous; its meaning, application and effect are plain; no judicial interpretation is required.

While the petition to the Judicial Council does allege there have been complaints about the mandatory retirement provisions in the Discipline, any change should be sought from the General Conference.

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