United Methodists from Norway and Mozambique are among the new members of the denomination’s Judicial Council.
Delegates to General Conference 2016 filled open positions for two clergy and three lay members on the nine-member council during elections on May 16.
The new clergy members are the Rev. Øyvind Helliesen of Norway and the Rev. Luan-Vu Tran of Lakewood, California. Elected as lay members were Ruben Reyes of Manila, Philippines; Deanell Reece Tacha of Lawrence, Kansas, and Lídia Romão Gulele of Maputo, Mozambique.
Judicial Council members are elected for eight-year terms, and four council members elected or re-elected in 2012 are still serving those terms.
Current clergy members are the Rev. J. Kabamba Kiboko from Southern Congo and currently a member of the Texas Conference, and the Rev. Dennis L. Blackwell, Greater New Jersey Conference, serving his second term. Current lay members are N. Oswald Tweh Sr., of the Liberia Conference in Africa and Beth Capen, New York Conference, serving her second term.
Helliesen is a district superintendent and dean of the cabinet in the Norway Annual Conference. He is a member of the Central Conference Council, European Methodist Council and World Methodist Council. He is an editor of the Northern Europe and Eurasia Book of Discipline.
Born in Vietnam and raised in Switzerland, Tran is the pastor of Lakewood (California) First United Methodist Church. He has served churches in Southern California since 2002 and is a member of the California-Pacific Conference. His degrees include one from Harvard Law School.
Reyes is beginning his second term on the Judicial Council. He is a retired justice of the Philippines Supreme Court and former presiding justice of the Philippines Court of Appeals. Currently, he is lay leader of Central United Methodist Church in Manila.
Tacha, a member of First United Methodist Church in Lawrence, Kansas, was appointed a federal judge on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in 1985. She has served for more than a decade on the board of trustees at Saint Paul School of Theology.
Gulele became an attorney in 2008 and is a member of the Legal Association of Judicial Women in Mozambique. She has served as chairperson of the Women’s Project Committee and president of young adults in the Maputo West District, Mozambique South Annual Conference.
Clergy elected as alternate members for Judicial Council are, in order, the Rev. Tim Bruster, the Rev. Angela Brown, the Rev. Diana DeWitt, the Rev. F. Belton Joyner, the Rev. Katherine Austin Mahle and the Rev. Gregory Stover.
Lay alternate members are, in order, Warren Plowden, Kent Fulton, Joe Wesley Kilpatrick, Ronald E. Enns, Randall Miller and Jacob Apari Lawan.
The Judicial Council is required to review each decision on a point of law made by a bishop during an annual conference session. Other cases come from lower church courts or from an official body of the church requesting a declaratory decision as to the legality of a particular action. The Judicial Council usually receives several requests during General Conference for declaratory decisions.