Decision Number 328
Ruling of Bishop Paul Locke A. Granadosin Concerning the Right of a Layman Who Has Been Approved by the Ministerial Members as a Lay Pastor to Continue Service as a Lay Member to the Annual Conference.
A lay member of an Annual Conference who during the session of that conference is approved as a lay pastor ceases at that time to represent the electing pastoral charge and is to be replaced by the alternate lay member.
Statement of Facts
During the regular session of the Northwest Philippines Annual Conference held in San Nicolas, Pangasinan, Philippines, May 14-17, 1969, Cornelio Generalao, lay member representing San Fabian local church, was approved by vote of the Annual Conference on recommendation of the Board of the Ministry as a lay pastor eligible for pastoral appointment.
Gregorio R. Bailen, a ministerial member, asked the presiding bishop to rule on a question of law. The question of the legality of Mr. Generalao's status as a lay member of that Annual Conference representing his local church was raised on the basis of provision in Paragraph 146 of the Discipline: "no lay pastorshall be eligible as a lay member or alternate."
Bishop Paul Locke A. Granadosin ruled on the question: "that CornelioGeneralao and all other lay delegates approved as Lay Pastors at this Conference be seated to represent their local churches."
Gregorio Bailen then moved to appeal the decision to the Judicial Council. The appeal was supported by a vote of 58 to 21.
The case has been properly brought before the Judicial Council by Bishop Granadosin, who reported his decision of law (Par. 1712), and by the secretary of the Annual Conference, Marcos V. Berbano, Jr., who has certified the action and vote of the Annual Conference (Par. 1711). The Judicial Council has jurisdiction.
Analysis and Rationale
The central question before us is whether a lay member who has been properly seated in the Annual Conference and who is subsequently approved as a lay pastor in that conference may continue to represent the electing local church for the balance of the session of the Annual Conference. The bishop in his ruling makes a distinction between the placement of a person's name on the list of approved lay pastors and the appointment of a person who has been so approved as pastor of a local charge. The Discipline makes no such distinction: "A lay pastor is a layman duly licensed to preach who (is) . . . eligible for appointment as pastor of a charge." (Par. 338)
"A lay pastor not serving a pastoral charge may assist his pastor in the charge where he resides. . . ." (Par. 341)
"A lay pastor while serving as pastor of a charge shall be responsible to perform all the duties of a pastor except. . . ." (Par. 349.1)
These statements indicate that a person who is approved as a lay pastor holds that status within the Annual Conference whether or not he is serving as a pastor of a charge.
The last sentence in Paragraph 146.1 is explicit and unequivocal: "No laypastor shall be eligible as a lay member or alternate (of the Annual Conference)." This being the case, a person who has been approved as a lay pastor (Par. 338) becomes a lay pastor forthwith and can no longer serve as a lay member from the electing charge. His alternate would thereupon take his place.
Given the present language of the Discipline, a person becomes a lay pastor at the time of his approval and has the standing of lay pastor with the advantages and limitations of that office.
A person, who has been seated as a lay member of an Annual Conference and who during the course of that conference session is approved as a lay pastor, is no longer eligible to represent the electing charge as a lay member and should be replaced by his alternate. The ruling of Bishop Granadosin is therefore reversed.