The United Methodist Judicial Council will consider five petitions deferred from its fall meeting during a Feb. 19-26 special session in St. Louis.
The session will begin just prior to the special General Conference, which meets Feb. 23-26 at the America’s Center Convention Complex in St. Louis to consider possible plans to resolve the decades-old conflict over homosexuality. Judicial Council will continue to meet during General Conference, as needed, when it receives requests from that body to consider.
Submissions for the top court’s special session are only for requests for action “that must be considered prior to the beginning of the called session of the General Conference,” the Rev. Lui Tran, Judicial Council secretary, said in a statement. Requests are limited to bodies authorized to file petitions by Paragraphs 2609 and 2610 in The United Methodist Book of Discipline, Tran said.
Nov. 30 is the submission deadline for the February special session and a tentative docket will be released sometime after that date.
Any amended opening briefs from those who previously submitted such briefs for the five docket items are due Dec. 14. Requests for an oral hearing also are due by Dec. 14. Amended original reply briefs must be submitted by Dec. 24. Any new submissions related to the docket items must be approved by the Judicial Council president.
Docket items deferred by the council in October include:
- A review of a decision of law by Baltimore-Washington Bishop LaTrelle Easterling, who ruled during the 2018 annual conference session that two individuals the Board of Ordained Ministry had approved were not eligible for ordination and commissioning because they are “self-avowed practicing homosexuals.”
- A request by the Standing Committee on Central Conference Matters about mistakes made during General Conference 2016 regarding the retirement of central conference bishops.
- A review of a decision of law by North Texas Bishop Michael McKee that a question on a tabled resolution related to the issue of human sexuality was out of order.
- Reviews of two separate decisions of law by Greater New Jersey Bishop John Schol. The first is about participation in a lawsuit filed against the New Jersey State Board of Education and Acting Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Education. The second is about the scheduling of “church superconferences” at locations other than the involved local churches.
Regular filing dates, available on the Judicial Council calendar, will apply to the court’s spring meeting, which is April 23-26 in Evanston, Illinois.
Bloom is the assistant news editor for United Methodist News Service and is based in New York.