Judicial Council rules against mandatory penalties in Just Resolutions

The Rev. Jeremy Troxler, delegate from the Western North Carolina Conference, makes a motion May 18 to refer certain items to the judicial Council during the 2016 United Methodist General Conference in Portland, OR.

Portland, OR — The Judicial Council of the United Methodist Church released Decision No. 1318 today, ruling that bishops cannot be mandated to levy a mandatory penalty against clergy using the Just Resolution process to address judicial complaints. The Judicial Council was responding to a request from the Judicial Administration Committee of the UM General Conference to consider the constitutionality of  three petitions amended and approved by the committee which directed bishops to levy a mandatory penalty against clergy

The Judicial Council was responding to a request from the Judicial Administration Committee of the UM General Conference to consider the constitutionality of  three petitions amended and approved by the committee which directed bishops to levy a mandatory penalty against clergy who admitted their guilt in relation to the chargeable offenses listed in ¶2702.1 of the Book of Discipline. The legislation stipulated that persons admitting their guilt would be subject to “…being suspended without pay, for no less than one full year, from all ministerial duties and functions, including membership, staff position or formal leadership role in any district, annual conference, or general church board, agency, committee, commission, council, or office, for a period of prayerful reflection in his or her covenantal vows to God and to The United Methodist Church…”

The constitutionality of the legislation was questioned by the Judicial Council based on their reading of ¶33 of the UM Constitution, which says that “The annual conference is the basic body in the church and as such shall have reserved to it the right to vote… on all matters related to the character and conference relations of its clergy members…”. The Council said that they think that the mandatory penalties suggested “…clearly negates the authority of the clergy session of the annual conference. These petitions transfer that authority from the annual conference to the General Conference and that transfer is unconstitutional.”

The Council was also concerned about the right of clergy to a fair trial, and a belief that mandating penalties as a part of the Just Resolution process would undermine the intent of that process.

“In the proposed amended versions of ¶ 2701.5 and ¶ 2706.5c3,” the Council wrote, “the call for a specific penalty in creating a just resolution is also unconstitutional as it denies the clergy person the specific right to trial and appeal.  Additionally, since the amended versions of the petitions refer to all the chargeable complaints under ¶ 2702.1 and require the same penalty to be assessed, the ability to deal individually with each chargeable offense listed is denied. This same right for trial needs to be offered in the process of establishing a Just Resolution at all phases of the trial process.”

This ruling offers an interesting insight into another request from Jeremy Troxler, a delegate from the Western North Carolina Annual conference, for the Judicial Council to rule on the meaning of ¶33 in relation to the standards for ministry and chargeable offenses mandated by the General Conference in the Book of Discipline. In his speech asking for a declaratory decision from the Council (a request approved by the General Conference), Troxler suggested that there is a conflict in regards to constitutional provisions, and that if ¶33 is operative then the issue of the conduct and standards for clergy would lie solely with the annual conference, not the General Conference. A decision in favor of Troxler’s opinion would open the door for annual conferences to set their own rules regarding the standards for clergy membership. 

The Judicial Council has been meeting throughout the 2016 General Conference session in Portland. More decisions are expected.

Jay Voorhees, Former Executive Editor

The Rev. Jay Voorhees is the Executive Editor of The United Methodist Reporter and the Chief Creative Officer for CircuitWriter Media LLC which operates this site and MethoBlog.com. Jay is an ordained elder in the Tennessee Annual Conference. Jay has written on life and the practice of faith in The United Methodist Church at Only Wonder Understands since 2003.

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3 Comments on "Judicial Council rules against mandatory penalties in Just Resolutions"

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The United Methodist Reporter wants to encourage lively conversation about The United Methodist Church and our articles in the belief that Christian conversation (what Wesley would call conferencing) is a means of grace. While we support passionate debate, we cannot allow language that demeans or demonizes others, and we reserve the right to delete any comment we believe to be harmful or inappropriate. We encourage all to remember that we are all broken and in need of Christ's grace, and that we all see through the glass darkly until that time we when reach full perfection in love. May your speech here be tempered with love, and reflection of the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. After all, "There is no law against things like this." (Galatians 5:22-23)
 
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Richard F Hicks
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Praise God! They read and followed the text of the BOD! As Wesley put it “Plain language for plain people.” Thank you, Richard F Hicks, OKC

Jay
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“Troxler suggested that there is a conflict in regards to constitutional provisions, and that if ¶33 is operative then the issue of the conduct and standards for clergy would lie solely with the annual conference, not the General Conference.”
Has or will the JC respond to this?

eric pone
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GC did repsond by sending it to the Judicial committee

wpDiscuz
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