Decision Number 46
Ruling of Bishop Titus Lowe in Indiana Annual Conference as to Fractional Years of Service Under Pension Regulations Interpreting Paragraph 1618 Discipline 1944
The provision of Paragraph 1618, Discipline 1944, subsection (I) as to calculating years of service of a Conference claimant, covers Hall cases and refers to all service of retired ministers, irrespective of whether before or after the year 1944.
Statement of Facts
During the Indiana Annual Conference held in the Summer of 1946, A. M. Brown, Chairman of the Board of Conference Claimants, presented the following Resolution which was adopted. (See Indiana Annual Conference Year Book 1946, pp. 442-443.)
Forasmuch as there is much complaint and dissatisfaction in the Indiana Conference relative to only three-fourths annuity year being allowed for the short nine-months year served in 1941-42 when the Conference session was changed from Fall to Spring;
Forasmuch as there is nothing in the Discipline to indicate what constitutes a legal year of service, the time between sessions of an Annual Conference, or the 12 months year, as allowed by the Board of Pensions in Chicago;
Forasmuch as we have a Judicial Decision, Par. 1337, page 477 of the 1940 Discipline, which allows a full year to one who entered a Spring Conference and retired in the Fall, a seven-month period;
Forasmuch as men who were in the course of study and on trial were allowed a full year for their work;
Forasmuch as no man in the Indiana Conference who was serving at the time of the nine-months year and who retired in the said Conference can ever work out a full calendar year, as the law will not permit a man to be retired between sessions of the Annual Conference;
We request our Bishop to make a formal interpretation at this 1946 session of the Annual Conference of Paragraph 1618, Article 5, Section 1 of the 1944 Discipline. The question is: Is a 'year of approved service' to be interpreted as meaning full-time service rendered under appointment between sessions of an Annual Conference, even if that time should be more or less than 12 calendar months? An interpretation is likewise requested of Paragraph 1618, Section 2, subsection (h). The question is, Is the legislation of this section retroactive?
Interpretation of Bishop Titus Lowe
Question 1, Is a 'year of approved service' to be interpreted as meaning full-time service rendered under appointment between sessions of an Annual Conference, even if that time should be more or less than 12 calendar months?
Bishop Lowe's answer to Question No. 1, It is.
Question No. 2, Is the legislation of this section retroactive?
Bishop Lowe's answer to Question No. 2, It is not.
The above quoted interpretations by Bishop Lowe are properly before the Judicial Council for review under Paragraph 43, Section 3, To pass upon decisions of law by Bishops in Annual or District Conferences.
Paragraph 1618, Article 5, of the Discipline 1944, reads in part as follows:
1. The term 'years of approved service' shall mean full-time service rendered in and to any appointment mentioned in Section 2 of this Article. Part-time service cannot be counted for Annuity claim except by a three-fourths vote of the Annual Conference upon recommendation of the Board of Conference Claimants.
2. The following years of approved service in the effective relation in an Annual Conference of The Methodist Church, as defined in Section 8 of this Article, may be counted for the purpose of determining both the annuity claims and the annuities payable thereon.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
(I) In calculating fractional years of service of a Conference Claimant, the following formula shall be used in all cases including those involved in clearinghouse operations: Any period up to one month and fourteen days shall not be counted; one month and fifteen days to four months and fourteen days shall be counted as one-quarter of a year; four months and fifteen days to seven months and fourteen days shall be counted as one-half of a year; seven months and fifteen days to ten months and fourteen days shall be counted as three-quarters of a year; ten months and fifteen days to eleven months and twenty-nine days shall be counted as one year. Each of the above-mentioned periods shall be inclusive of all days therein.
In 1944 a general pension code was established effective in both the Illinois and Missouri Corporation territories and thus universally applicable within the Church.
After the General Conference of 1944, records of ministerial service for the two territories were changed in accordance with the above-mentioned regulations regarding fractional years. Without this rule ministers serving for example a seven months year (in cases in which this was a change from a Fall to a Spring Conference) would receive credit for twelve months. If this kind of situation were to occur in an individual case more than once, on account of transfer to another Conference, the minister could finish with more years of service to his credit than he could possibly have served counting on an actual calendar year basis, which would naturally be inequitable.
The Judicial Decision referred to in the resolution as Paragraph 1337 of the 1940 Discipline on Page 477 is no longer in effect. Some of the Judicial Decisions quoted in Paragraph 1337 of the 1940 Discipline were retained in the 1944 Discipline under Paragraph 1630 under the caption of General Regulations and were enacted as part of the legislation rather than as decisions. This particular decision above referred to was dropped by the General Conference of 1944 in view of the distinct conflict with the legislation contained in Paragraph 1618, Section 2 (I) of the 1944 Discipline.
The words in all cases as used in Paragraph 1618, Section 2 (i) show clearly the scope intended by the General Conference and are determinative of the questions at issue. Those words are specific and must refer to all service of retired ministers, irrespective of whether before or after 1944.
From the foregoing it necessarily follows that both of the rulings of the Bishop were in error and must now be and hereby are reversed.