Decision Number 150
Whether or Not Years of Service as a Full- time Approved Supply Pastor Can Be Counted as a Part of the 40 Years of Service as a Basis for Retirement as Defined in Paragraphs 1617 and 1618 of the 1956 Discipline
Full-time years of service as an approved supply pastor, prior to admission on trial by an Annual Conference, may be counted as a part of the forty years of service as a basis for the request of any ministerial member of an Annual Conference for the retired relation.
Statement of Facts
Under date of July 1, 1958, C. A. Tucker, Secretary of the Virginia Conference made request of the Judicial Council for a Declaratory Ruling as follows:
"Since there is a difference of opinion on the part of the leaders of the Church in regard to what can be counted in the forty years of service as a basis for retirement as defined in Paragraphs 1617 and 1618 of the 1956 Discipline, we the members of the Virginia Annual Conference in regular session, June 9-12, 1958, do hereby request the Judicial Council to issue a Declaratory Ruling as to whether or not Supply years can be counted as part of the forty years of service as a basis for retirement."
The request is properly before the Council under the provisions of Paragraph 914, Section 8 of the 1956 Discipline.
Analysis and Rationale
Paragraph 1617 (3) of the 1956 Discipline provides that:
"At his own request the Annual Conference may place any ministerial member therof in the retired relation, with the privilege of making an annuity claim, if he has attained age sixty-five, or has completed forty years of full-time approved service, as defined in Paragraph 1618, prior to the first day of the session of the conference to which said request is presented."
In Paragraph 1617 reference is made to the definition of years of approved service" stated in Paragraph 1618 (1) as the basis for determining retirement eligibility.
Paragraph 1618 (1) states that:
"The term 'years of approved service' shall mean full-time service rendered in and to any appointment mentioned in Section 2 of this paragraph."
This definition of "years of approved service" does not distinguish between full-time service years on trial and in the effective relation, and full-time service years as an approved supply pastor prior to reception on trial.
Differences of opinion may arise in regard to the introductory statement of Section 2 of Paragraph 1618 which reads as follows:
"The following years of approved service on trial or in the effective relation in an Annual Conference of The Methodist Church . . . are eligible to be counted for the purpose of determining the annuity claims payable thereon."
On the face of it, this statement concerns eligibility of years to be counted in determining annuity claims and in that connection it relates only to years on trial or in the effective relation. It does not refer to eligibility for retirement based on "full-time years of approved service."
The Discipline in the following paragraphs indicates that the full-time service years of an approved supply pastor are recognized as "years of approved service."
Paragraph 1630 (16) "In determining the annuity claim of a regular conference claimant, the years of approved service as a full-time approved supply pastor rendered prior to admission on trial by a conference may be counted. . . ."
Paragraph 1631 (1) "An approved supply pastor who shall have rendered not less than ten years of full-time approved service as pastor of a charge ... furthermore, that years of full-time service rendered to a board, institution, or other agency of The Methodist Church may be counted . . ."
These paragraphs not only evidence the fact that the Discipline does apply the term "years of approved service" to the full-time service of approved supply pastors but they also further emphasize the status of such years of service by declaring that they may be counted in determining the annuity claim of a regular conference claimant.
Since the term "years of approved service" (Par. 1618) applies to the full-time service of approved supply pastors and since an annual conference may place any ministerial member thereof requesting it, in the retired relation if he has completed forty years of full-time approved service, it follows that the years spent as a full-time approved supply pastor may be counted as a basis for retirement under the provisions of Paragraph 1617, Section 3 of the 1956 Discipline.
It is the decision of the Judicial Council that the years of full-time service as an approved supply pastor, prior to admission on trial by an Annual Conference, may be counted in the forty years of service as a basis for the request of any ministerial member of an Annual Conference for the retired relation under the provisions of Paragraph 1617, Section 3, of the 1956 Discipline.