Decision Number 101
Request of Western North Carolina Annual Conference for a Declaratory Decision on the Meaning of the Word "Consult" as Found in Paragraph 432(l) of the 1952 Discipline
The word "Consult" in Paragraph 432(i) means an exchange of ideas between the District Superintendent and the pastor concerning his appointment before the final announcement.
Simultaneous releasing of the Appointments before the final reading does not constitute consultation as required in Paragraph 432(l) of the 1952 Discipline.
Statement of Facts
At the session of the Western North Carolina Conference held at High Point, North Carolina on September 23-27, 1953, the following resolution was adopted:
"Resolution asking the Judicial Council for a Declaratory Decision on the meaning of the word consult in Paragraph 432(l) of the Discipline
We, the undersigned, move that the Western North Carolina Conference request the Judicial Council to:
1. Define the word "consult" as it appears in Paragraph 432 (1) of the Discipline in the statement "and provided, further that before the final announcement of Appointments is made the District Superintendents shall consult with the pastors . . ."
2. Give a Decision as to whether or not a simultaneous releasing of the Appointments before the final reading constitutes consultation.
3. If the Judicial Council finds this request outside its jurisdiction, it is asked to request a definition from the General Conference.
In the Western North Carolina Conference it has been the practice for the last several years to have a closed Cabinet from the Saturday before the Annual Conference session begins until the following Friday afternoon when each District Superintendent informs the men in his District of their Appointment except in most unusual cases.
There seem to be a number of divergent views about what the Discipline means by "consult" and it is the feeling of this Conference that it should be given the same interpretation throughout Methodism.
Signed: H. S. Williams G. N. Dulin D. L. Stubbs"
Paragraph 914 of the 1952 Discipline states:
"When the General Conference shall have passed any act or Legislation that appears to be subject to more than one interpretation, or when a Paragraph or Paragraphs of the Discipline seem to be of doubtful meaning or application, the Judicial Council, on petition as hereinafter provided, shall have jurisdiction to make a ruling in the nature of a Declaratory Decision as to the meaning, application and effect of such act, legislation, or Paragraph or Paragraphs of the Discipline: and the Decision of the Judicial Council thereon shall be as binding and effectual as a Decision made by the Judicial Council on appeal under the law relating to appeals to the Judicial Council. "The following bodies in The Methodist Church are hereby authorized to make such petition to the Judicial Council for a Declaratory Decision....
"(8) Any Annual Conference, on matters relating to Annual Conferences or the work therein."
From the facts in connection with the foregoing Resolution the Judicial Council is authorized to take jurisdiction in the matter presented by the Western North Carolina Annual Conference.
Analysis and Rationale
The word "Consult" means to seek the opinion of or to confer or discuss with another. In Paragraph 432 (1) it means that the District Superintendent shall inform the pastor of the proposed Appointment and discuss the matter with him with the view of ascertaining if there are any reasons why such Appointment should not be made. Consultation means that there is an exchange of ideas even though they may not be in agreement. Consequently, in number two of the Resolution presented by the Western North Carolina Conference, the simultaneous releasing of Appointments of pastors to their charges before the final reading could not be regarded as consultation required by Paragraph 432(l) of the 1952 Discipline. Evidently the phrase in question in Paragraph 432 was designed to encourage a more considerate procedure in appointing Pastors to their charges.
It is therefore the Decision of the Judicial Council that while the final authority in appointing preachers to their charges rests upon the presiding Bishop, it does not relieve the District Superintendent of the responsibility of consulting with the preacher in order to ascertain whether there are any reasons why the appointment should not be made. Therefore, the final reading of the appointment of preachers to their charges must be preceded by consultation of the District Superintendent with the preacher.