Wednesday, June 13, 2012

I Spoke Too Soon

I really felt like my previous blog post, "No Guarantees" was late in arrival because General Conference is getting farther and farther in our rear view mirrors.  It had been written but commitments to the church, the annual conference and our United Methodist camps kept me from refining it for publication.  

Now, I wish I had procrastinated in releasing it for another twenty-four hours.  I would have seen the announcement by General Conference Secretary Reist stating:

The Book of Discipline 2012 does not eliminate security of appointment for elders.           The amendments to paragraph 334 that would have mirrored the changes in 337 were not supported by the committee.  They were not voted on in the plenary.  The language of 334.1, “Every effective elder in full connection who is in good standing shall be continued under appointment by the bishop provided that if the elder is appointed to serve in an affiliated relationship in a missionary conference (¶ 586) and that appointment is terminated by the bishop who presides in the missionary conference, then the responsibility for meeting this obligation rests with the bishop of the conference of which the elder is a member.” remains in effect.   
There's already been some hand-wringing by the Ministry and Higher Education committee members since the intent was to eliminate "guaranteed appointments" from the Discipline.  However, we don't operate by intent, we operate by church law.  The bishops interpret the church law for each conference.  The Judicial Council decides if the bishops have done so correctly.
The new language states that the bishops may recommend an elder to transitional leave which is a newly expanded clergy status that was recommended by the Ministry and Higher Education committee and adopted on the consent calendar (Item 358).  
My guess is that the Council of Bishops will rule that an elder put on transitional leave under its (now) expanded role is their appointment.  They are "appointed" to transitional leave.  
So the Judicial Council will be forced to decide if paragraph 334.1 continues security of appointment or not.   
Whether this stands or not, the General Conference did eliminate the security of appointment for Associate Members (Item 352 of the Consent Calendar).
What will tomorrow bring?

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