PRESIDING ELDER DUTIES
THE JUDICIAL COUNCIL OF
THE AFRICAN METHODIST EPISCOPAL ZION CHURCH
IN THE MATTER OF
THE PETITION OF WILLIAM A. NEIL
DECISION No. 2004-017
The matter comes before the council by a petition for declaratory judgment filed by Rev. William A. Neil, member of The A.M.E. Zion Church and in good standing.
ARTICLE II – JURISDICTION
a) The Council shall have appellate function.
b) The Council shall not have original jurisdiction, since decisions are declaratory and final in the interim of the General Conference.
c) The Council is amenable to the General Conference, and any decision of the Council may be reversed or modified by the General Conference in regular or special session.
¶ 360, The Book of Discipline of The African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church (2000).
ARTICLE III - DUTIES
b) To hear and make declaratory judgments when petitioned to do so when any law is subject to more than one interpretation or any paragraph in The Book of Discipline is of doubtful meaning. Any person in good and regular standing in The A.M.E. Zion Church can petition the Judicial Council for such a judgment. The Council's decision is final, unless revised or reversed by the General Conference. Id. ¶ 361.
No testimony was presented to the Council. No hearing was required, as none was needed to respond to the petition. The petition presents only one question of interpretation of the law:
QUESTION TO BE DECIDED
“Does the Presiding Elder of a District violate Paragraph 249, A.M. E. Zion Discipline (2000) [The Presiding Elder shall not assume pastoral functions where there is a pastor] when he or she coerces, encourages, counsels or instigates the formation of a committee within a local church to question matters in the local church of concern to the said committee without consultation with the Pastor and without nomination by the pastor in charge or authorization by the membership?”
Paragraph 244. The duties of a Presiding Elder are:
1. To travel throughout his/her District and labor for the promotion of the spiritual and temporal up building of the work committed to his/her charge.
19. To explain and enforce the law, as well as the Gospel, but always in the spirit of Christ.
Paragraph 249. “The Presiding Elder shall not assume pastoral functions where there is a pastor.
36. Whenever there is any business to be attended to by the Local Church not otherwise vested in the Board of Trustees, Leaders Meeting or Quarterly Conference, the Members in Full Connection shall be called to gather in a Members’ Conference to consider the matter.
THEREFORE, it is the decision of the Council that:
A Presiding Elder does not have oversight in local church matters beyond those prescribed by our Discipline.
BY THE JUDICIAL COUNCIL THIS 26TH DAY OF MARCH, 2004
Star of Zion 7/8 – 15/04, p. 6