Wrap-up: Judicial Council at GC2019

Translate Page

At every General Conference, The United Methodist Church’s top court rules on questions of constitutionality that come from that body.

During the Feb. 23-26 special session, the stakes were a bit higher as General Conference delegates debated over the very unity of the denomination.

The first ruling of Judicial Council during GC2019 — requested by the United Methodist Council of Bishops — was to declare unconstitutional two petitions that were to come before conference delegates.

Petition 90052 was unconstitutional, the court said in Decision 1375 “because it infringes upon the right of the annual conference to vote on all matters relating to the character and conference relations of its clergy members,” as provided under Paragraph 33 of the constitution.

The second petition, Petition 90078, was unconstitutional because it would create a global episcopacy committee, the decision said. That petition was part of the Modified Traditional Plan.

On Feb. 25, General Conference asked the court for a declaratory decision on the constitutionality of 17 petitions related to the Traditional Plan and two disaffiliation plans.

The next morning, Judicial Council issued Decision 1377, which deemed nine petitions unconstitutional and one other partially unconstitutional.

The nine petitions deal with subjects such as episcopal accountability and responsibilities, composition of boards of ordained ministry, the examination of candidates for ministry by the boards of ordained ministry and disaffiliation, or procedures for churches that want to leave.

The rationale for much of Decision 1377 referred to Decision 1366, the outcome of the council’s review of the Traditional Plan and One Church Plan during its October meeting in Zurich.

The court’s work did not end on Feb. 26.

Just as the business portion of GC2019 was ending, delegates voted 405 to 395 to send the Judicial Council a last-minute request for a declaratory decision on the constitutionality of the entirety of the Traditional Plan. The council will address the request at its next scheduled meeting April 23-25 in Evanston, Illinois.

In other business, members of Judicial Council elected the Rev. J. Kabamba Kiboko as its secretary, effective Feb. 28. Kiboko is a pastor in the West Ohio Conference and a native of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

She will succeed the Rev. Luan-Vu “Lui” Tran, who has served as the council’s secretary since the new Judicial Council was elected by General Conference 2016. Tran, an elder in the California-Pacific Conference, had advised the council of his intent to resign as secretary because of local church and family obligations. Tran will remain on the court.

Bloom is the assistant news editor for United Methodist News Service and is based in New York.

 

Follow her at https://twitter.com/umcscribe or contact her at 615-742-5470 or [email protected]. To read more United Methodist news, subscribe to the free Daily or Weekly Digests.


Like what you're reading? Support the ministry of UM News! Your support ensures the latest denominational news, dynamic stories and informative articles will continue to connect our global community. Make a tax-deductible donation at ResourceUMC.org/GiveUMCom.

Sign up for our newsletter!

UMNEWS-SUBSCRIPTION
Judicial Council
Members of the 2016-2020 Judicial Council. (From left) Front row: Deanell Reece Tacha, N. Oswald Tweh Sr., the Rev. Luan-Vu Tran. Back row: Lydia Romão Gulele, the late Ruben T. Reyes, the Rev. Øyvind Helliesen, the Rev. Dennis Blackwell, and the Rev. J. Kabamba Kiboko. (Not pictured, Beth Capen) The Judicial Council released three decisions June 6. Photo by Kathleen Barry, United Methodist Communications.

Church court releases 3 decisions

The United Methodist Church’s top court released the final rulings of its fall docket, including a decision raising constitutional issues with a longtime provision of church law. Looking ahead, the Judicial Council faces more questions related to disaffiliations.
Judicial Council
United Methodist bishops process into the opening worship service for the 2019 special General Conference in St. Louis. The Judicial Council, The United Methodist Church’s top court, released a memorandum that clarifies an earlier ruling on bishop elections. File photo by Mike DuBose, UM News.

Church court modifies ruling on bishop elections

The United Methodist Judicial Council has modified an earlier ruling to say that newly elected U.S. bishops will take office on Jan. 1, 2023.
Judicial Council
The Judicial Council’s Decision 1444 released May 10 rules that U.S. annual conference cannot separate from The United Methodist Church under current church law. The decision and other recent rulings by The United Methodist Church’s top court are affecting the current annual conference season. Graphic by Laurens Glass, UM News.

Recent rulings shape annual conference season

As U.S. annual conference season gets underway, the regional church bodies are dealing with decisions by The United Methodist Church’s top court about disaffiliations.