Memorandum Number 1106


October 24, 2008

Review of Decisions by Bishop Edward Paup of the Pacific Northwest Annual Conference Regarding a Request for a Decision of Law on the Consultation Process in the Appointment of Pastors

On June 19, 2008, at the time of the reading of the appointments, a lay member of the Pacific Northwest Annual Conference presented a request for a decision of law. The following questions were asked of the Bishop:
1. Is the Bishop, and/or the District Superintendent , required to consult with the Pastor, (Para. 433.5a) and the committee on pastor parish relations (Para. 431) prior to making a definite decision to move the pastor from his/her present appointment to another church appointment, especially when the change in appointment is not initiated by the congregation or the pastor? Para. 431 specifically states: "Consultation is not merely notification." 2. Is the Bishop and/or District Superintendent required to consult with the Staff Parish Relations Team ("SPRT") of the congregation from whom a Pastor is being taken or the SPRT where the Pastor is being sent, or both, prior to making a decision to change the appointment of that Pastor? 3. Can the Bishop appoint a Pastor to a new congregation when the District Superintendent has failed to work with the SPRT to develop the profiles mandated by Para. 432.1 "that reflects the needs, characteristics, and opportunities for mission of the charge consistent with the Church's statement of purpose" (Para. 421.1)? 4. Can the Bishop and the Cabinet consider a change in the appointment of a Pastor without it being considered in "light of the profile developed for each charge and the gifts and evidence of God's grace, professional experience, and family needs of the pastor" (Para. 433.2)? 5. If an appointment is made without following the appointment requirements in the 2004 Book of Discipline, Para. 431-433, is the appointment valid and/or legitimate? Is it therefore, enforceable by the Annual Conference?
In response to the questions raised, on July 9, 2008, the Bishop wrote:
"…in accordance with the carefully set forth requirements of JCD#799 for requesting a bishop's ruling on a question of law, it appears the criteria have not been met….None of the questions raised by the lay members was "germane" to the business, consideration, or discussion of the Annual Conference." Furthermore, the question was not" raised during the deliberation of a specific issue of a matter upon which the conference takes action." (Quotations are from JCD #799)….The request was formally delivered to the bishop immediately following the bishop's reading of the appointments of the Tacoma District, which includes the Fircrest UMC. But the reading by the bishop of the appointments does not meet the criteria of Guideline 2 of JCD#799…
Quoting from Decision 799 the Bishop goes on to say:
The so-called 'questions of law', though presented properly, were not related to the regular business, current consideration nor discussion of the conference session and are part of the supervisory function of the district superintendent.
Finally, the bishop states, "All of the questions submitted in this matter clearly relate to the 'supervisory function of the district superintendent.' …and are hypothetical." The bishop determined that the request for a decision of law does not meet the standards necessary to make such a substantive ruling and therefore declined to do so.


Bishop Paup determined there was no question of law. Since no decision of law was made, the Judicial Council has no jurisdiction in the matter.

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