QUARTERLY CONFERENCE ISSUES
THE JUDICIAL COUNCIL OF
THE AFRICAN METHODIST EPISCOPAL ZION CHURCH
IN THE MATTER OF
THE PETITION OF DEMA NAPPIER
DECISION No. 2005-019
This matter is before the Judicial Council by petition filed by Mrs. Dema Nappier, a member in good and regular standing of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church requesting clarification and declaratory judgment regarding the quarterly Conference issues in accordance with the Rule of the Judicial Council (as amended) which reads in part as follows:
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.”
The Book of Discipline of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church (hereinafter referred to as “The Discipline”) Article II, ¶ 360.
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 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. Article III, ¶ 361.
FACTS OF THE CASE
The petition seeks a Declaratory Judgment regarding 1) the authority of a Presiding Elder to refuse to hear an appeal at a Quarterly Conference; 2) the legality of a Pastor approving the characters of the officers and members of the Quarterly Conference prior to a Quarterly Conference from which the Pastor was absent.
No testimony was presented to the Council other than the petition, and no other hearing was requested.
QUESTIONS TO BE DECIDED
1, Can a Presiding Elder refused to hear an appeal at a Quarterly Conference?
2. Can a Pastor tell the Presiding Elder that he has approved the character of all the officers? The Pastor was not present at the Quarterly Conference. The Presiding Elder made this statement while holding the Quarterly Conference and stated that the matter was closed.
Pursuant Part III, Section VII, Chapter Seven, Paragraph 175 of the 2004 The Discipline, the Presiding Elder shall appoint a time and place of holding the Quarterly Conference, and shall preside over its proceedings, or he/she may appoint a traveling elder to preside; but in the absence of the Presiding Elder, and of the traveling Elder so appointed, the pastor shall preside.
Further, Paragraph 177, Subsection 1, provides: The regular business of the Quarterly Conference is: 1) to examine into the character of all its members whose characters are subject to approval or disapproval by that body. Subsection 6 direct that the Quarterly Conference shall act as an appellate court for members who have been tried in the lower court, to adjudicate and finally determine the appeal. Subsection 7 direct that Quarterly Conference to try, suspend, deprive of credentials, expel, or acquit any local elder, local preacher, or exhorter in the circuit or station, against whom charges have been preferred.
Paragraph 178 provides that The Quarterly Conference shall have original jurisdiction over its own numbers, and shall constitute a court of appeal for lay numbers.
With respect to the passage of characters of the members of the Quarterly Conference: At the appropriate time during the conduct of business of the Quarterly Conference, the Pastor offers a motion for the passage of character of its officers and numbers. The Discipline makes no prohibition against the Pastor advising the Presiding Elder in advance of a meeting at which he/she shall not be present on the passage of character of the officers and members. Such prior advise by the Pastor to the Presiding Elder should result in a motion made by an officer or member in attendance and the same should be duly seconded passed in the usual accordance with Robert's Rules of Order.
BY ORDER OF THE JUDICIAL COUNCIL THIS 19TH DAY OF JANUARY 2005