Decision Number 696
The Legality of Holding Membership in Two Denominations Simultaneously.
There is no disciplinary provision authorizing an ordained United Methodist minister to hold membership simultaneously in another denomination. Upon joining another denomination, membership in The United Methodist Church is terminated.
Statement of Facts
While there is a lengthy chronology relating to this matter, the essential facts are as follows:
William Farmer, a member in full connection with the North Texas Annual Conference and serving under due assignment to St. Luke Community United Methodist Church, entered full communion with the Roman Catholic Church at Holy Cross Catholic Church on January 26, 1990, as a lay member.
This matter was the subject of consideration by Bishop Bruce Blake, the Conference Relations Committee of the Board of Ordained Ministry, the Joint Review Committee, the Annual Conference Board of Ordained Ministry, and the Clergy Session of the North Texas Conference, all of which took various actions and all of which made various recommendations. In any event, the matter came before the 1993 Session of the North Texas Annual Conference on a motion by the 1992 Clergy Session that William Farmer's membership be terminated. Bishop Blake ruled that the motion to terminate would be acted on at the next Clergy Session of the North Texas Conference.
At the opening of the 1993 Clergy Session of the North Texas Annual Conference, Bishop Blake ruled a substitute motion in order, which motion reversed the previous action of the 1992 Executive Session terminating William Farmer's membership and embraced the dual witness.
Subsequently, the positive answer to the disciplinary question, "Are all members of the Conference blameless in their life and official administration?" including William Farmer was approved by the Clergy Session. This action precipitated submission of a written question to the bishop. The response was Bishop Blake's decision that such an answer relating to William Farmer was illegal inasmuch as he was in disobedience to the Order and Discipline of The United Methodist Church by joining the Roman Catholic Church and being in full communion therewith.
Zan Holmes recused himself and did not participate in any of the proceedings related to this decision.
The Judicial Council has jurisdiction under Par. 2613 of the 1992 Discipline.
Bishop Blake's decision that William Farmer cannot hold dual membership as modified herein is affirmed.
October 30, 1993