In JCD 1224, the Council deferred their decision about a North Carolina conference reorganization plan in which District Superintendency was radically changed to put all the superintendents in the Conference Center and leave to one or more assistants with no designated residences most of the responsibilities usually handled by the superintedent. At issue was the separation of tasks between superintendents and their assistants and whether all of the proper permissions had been obtained. The bishop had said they were but had sent no corroboration of his assertion.
Unfortunately, the only issue definitively decided in JCD 1246 was whether or not all the proper votes had been taken as directed by the Discipline. The conference leaders pulled together the documents from the meetings and sent them in. I do not know if the conference implemented the new structure in the meantime or if that was held up until the Council ruled. The Council accepted the respective job descriptions.
What remains as my question was somewhat handled in a concurring opinion where Reuben Reyes brought up the problem of where the assistant was asked to do what only the superintendent should do. He saw two and I would have listed every one of the tasks being passed off by the reorganization. Rereading the bishop’s responses to the questions of law in JCD 1224 is like reading a science-fiction utopia set in the garb of the United Methodist Church.
I understand virtual offices. Mine is wherever my laptop gets a wifi signal and my cell phone has bars. But I have not put my physical presence into the cases that come my way. For me, it is economically not feasible. I bet that the new model of behavior called for in the reorganization will not put the superintendents into the field, especially the distant rural areas. I just do not see it happening. I think it will appear as physically daunting and as costly as I find it. But there is one further factor: the position of privilege to which both bishops and superintendents have evolved will defeat the ideal pattern envisioned.
The Superintendency is the most difficult and complex job in our whole system and needs to be defined more reasonably by the Discipline so that it can be done by a human being! Help should be provided where possible. I hope the Council will review the job descriptions again either if reconsideration of the decision is requested or if new requests for rulings come up in the future.
For comments made to the original ruling, see the post on this blog for JCD 1224, made in November of last year.