Doctrines and Discipline of the Free Methodist Church of North America - 1939 Edition



     ¶ 262. In case of disputes between two or more members of the church, concerning the payment of debts, or other matters not involving personal character, which cannot be settled by the parties concerned, the preacher who has charge of the circuit shall inquire into the circumstances of the case; and shall recommend to the contending parties a reference, consisting of one arbiter chosen by the plaintiff, and another chosen by the defendant, which two arbiters so chosen shall nominate a third; the three arbiters being members of the church.

     ¶ 263. But if one of these parties be dissatisfied with the judgment given, such parties may apply to the ensuing quarterly conference for allowance to have a second arbitration appointed; and if the quarterly conference see sufficient reason, they shall grant a second arbitration, in which case each party shall choose two arbiters, and the four arbiters shall choose a fifth, the judgment of the majority of whom shall be final; and any person refusing to abide by such judgment shall be excluded from the church.

     ¶ 264. If any member of the church shall refuse, in case of debt or other disputes, to refer the matter to arbitration, when recommended by him who has charge of the circuit, or shall enter into a lawsuit with another before such measures are taken, he shall be expelled by a regular trial according to Discipline, unless the case be of such a nature as to require or justify a process of law.

     ¶ 265. Whenever a complaint is made against any member of the church for non-payment of debt, when the accounts are adjusted, and the amount is ascertained, the preacher in charge of the circuit shall call the debtor before a committee of at least three, to show the cause why be does not make payment. The committee shall determine what further time shall be granted him for payment; and in case the debtor refuses to comply, he shall be expelled; but in such case he may appeal to the quarterly conference, and its decision shall be final; and in case the creditor complains that justice is not done him, he may lay his grievance before the quarterly conference and its decision shall be final; and if the creditor refuses to comply he shall be expelled. In case the debtor refuses or neglects to comply with the findings of the committee or of the quarterly conference, the creditor may have recourse to the civil courts without affecting his membership in the church.

     ¶ 266. To prevent scandal, when any member of the church shall fail in business, or contract debts which he is not able to pay, two or three judicious members of the church shall inspect the accounts, contracts and circumstances of the case of the supposed delinquent; and if he has behaved dishonestly, or borrowed money without a probability of paying, be shall be expelled. The official body to which the offending member is amenable shall appoint the committee of inspection.