Legal Question in Civil Litigation in Ohio

Our church Doctrine & Discipline (African Methodist Episcopal Church) states specifically that: No Elder or Deacon can be ordained in another denomination. (Since they are the orained clergy of the AMEC). I am an Evangelist (which is an AMEC non-ordained clergy classification) I came to the AMEC 14 years ago being acknowledged as a non-AMEC ordained clergy and have been licensed n as Evangelist, by the AMEC for the past 9 years.

Problem: The AMEC requests me to surrender my non-AMEC ordination (verbally)

- AMEC has not charged me with any "violation" formally

- AMEC has failed to offer interpretation of their Doctrine & Discipline to determine if a vio-

lation has been committed

My interpretation: The request is nullified on these bases:

- Doctrine & Discipline clearly specifies Elders an Deacons, neither of which I am

- I was licensed as an Evangelist 9 years ago by the AMEC who had full knowlege of my

non-AMEC ordination

Question: Would I need legal representation to request the AMEC, provide

(1) Written interpretation of their Doctrine & Discipline, concerning this issue

(2) Written charge of violation

I am aware that courts do not rule in eclesiatical matters. However, is there a process that would, at the very least, offer some legal advising for me?

Thank you very much, I am glad this service is availble to ask questions. I anxiously await your response.

Rev. Valerie J. Scott

Asked on 1/12/10, 11:12 am

1 Answer from Attorneys

David Michael Benson Benson Law Firm

Most large denominations have ecclesiastical courts that rule on these matters. Some also have persons providing opinions on church law. So that is probably where your answer lies. That aside, I don't see any adverse action the church has taken against you, so I'm not sure you need to do anything yet.

Of some help down the road might be the equitable doctrine of laches, which in civil court prevents an action where the complaining party has "slept on its rights." Good luck.

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Answered on 1/22/10, 12:25 pm

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