Decision Number 342
Ruling of Bishop Cornelio M. Ferrer on the Right of a Lay Member of an Annual Conference, Elected by His Local Church on a Quadrennial Basis, to Complete the Four Years of His Term of Office.
When an Annual Conference directs that its lay members shall be elected quadrennially, a lay member, elected at the beginning of the quadrennium, has the right to complete his four year term unless he ceases to be a member of the charge electing him or for any reason fails to serve.
Statement of Facts
The Judicial Council has received from Bishop Cornelio M. Ferrer a report of a Decision of Law made by him in the Philippines Annual Conference, meeting at St. John's United Methodist Church in Manila, May 19-23, 1971. The bishop's report contained the following facts.
The Philippines Annual Conference at the beginning of this quadrennium directed that its lay members should be elected on a quadrennial basis. Mr. Pedro Angeles was elected by St. Peter's United Methodist Church for the quadrennium ending in 1972.
At the 1971 session of the Philippines Annual Conference Mr. Pedro Angeles was present at the roll call but his right to represent his church was challenged by Mr. Balbino Gatdula, Jr. who claimed to be the newly elected lay member from St. Peter's United Methodist Church.
The matter was referred to the Credential Committee which reported back to the Annual Conference that Mr. Gatdula should be seated instead of Mr. Angeles. Mr. Angeles protested and the Annual Conference by vote requested the chair to rule on the matter.
Bishop Ferrer ruled as follows:
"Whereas Pedro Angeles was duly elected lay delegate (member) of the St. Peter's United Methodist Church for a term of four years and that his term will expire at the close of the quadrennium ending in 1972, therefore, he is still the lay delegate (member) of St. Peter's United Methodist Church until his term expires."
More than one-fifth of the members of the Annual Conference voted to appeal from this ruling to the Judicial Council.
The Judicial Council has jurisdiction under Paragraph 1711 of the 1968 Discipline.
Analysis and Rationale
Paragraph 146.1 of the Discipline reads in part as follows:
"The lay member (s) of the Annual Conference and one or more alternates shall be elected annually or quadrennially as the Annual Conference directs. If the charge's lay representative to the Annual Conference shall cease to be a member of the charge or shall for any reason fail to serve, an alternate member in the order of his election shall serve in his place.
Both the lay members and the alternates shall be at least twenty-one years of age, and shall have been members in good standing of The United Methodist Church or one of the churches forming the union for at least four years, and of the local church from which they are elected for at least one year. . . ."
The record shows that the Philippines Annual Conference directed its charges to elect lay members quadrennially and that Mr. Angeles was elected by St. Peter's United Methodist Church for the quadrennium ending in 1972. It must be assumed that he met the requirements of age and membership at the time of his election. There is no evidence that his membership in St. Peter's Church had ceased or that he had failed to serve. It is clear that Mr. Angeles was properly seated in the 1971 session of the Philippines Annual Conference by the bishop's ruling. See also Judicial Council Decision No. 305.
It is the decision of the Judicial Council that Mr. Pedro Angeles, having been elected as lay member from the St. Peter's United Methodist Church for the quadrennium pursuant to the method of election directed by the Philippines Annual Conference, is the duly authorized lay member from that charge for the quadrennium ending in 1972. The ruling of Bishop Cornelio M. Ferrer is hereby affirmed.