HYPERLINK "http://www.umc.org/decisions/61959/eyJyZXN1bHRfcGFnZSI6IlwvZGVjaXNpb25zXC9zZWFyY2gtcmVzdWx0cyIsInJhbmdlLWZyb206ZGVjaXNpb25fZGF0ZSI6IjEwXC8yNVwvMjAxNCJ9" http://www.umc.org/decisions/61959/eyJyZXN1bHRfcGFnZSI6IlwvZGVjaXNpb25zXC9zZWFyY2gtcmVzdWx0cyIsInJhbmdlLWZyb206ZGVjaXNpb25fZGF0ZSI6IjEwXC8yNVwvMjAxNCJ9
RECONSIDERATION OF JCD 1276
Reconsideration by the Council usually is based on who is asking for it (certain bishops have gotten the Council to respond to requests for reconsideration). That observation, of course, is from someone who has asked several times for reconsideration only to be turned down. I do not know the statistics and my recall is not as sharp as it used to be, but I remember only one request that was granted and that was for Bishop Tuell many years ago.
In this case, the advocate was pressing for something comparable to appeal in the administrative track, appeals being to bodies that have not previously dealt with the case or having no one on the bodies who did deal with the case in another context.
That’s what makes reconsideration so unlikely. The Council has already “dealt” with the case and it takes a Bishop Tuell or a dynamite bit of law to get the Council to revisit a previous decision, as desperately needed as that may be.
I do not know the grounds for the request in this case. Mine would be that there is really no objective third party body for a pastor to appeal to from the administrative track, contrary to Paragraph 20 which guarantees the right of appeal. People can lose their ministries as completely under administrative procedures as they can from judicial procedures. The former are for lesser offenses than the latter but to end up on administrative (involuntary) location is to be considered as no longer a member of the conference (Paragraph 360.3). That also happens to a defrocked pastor: they lose membership in the conference. They may no longer be appointed because they are not members. They are not Traveling Elders any more. Why do those put on administrative location not have the same right of appeal as the one defrocked by a trial court? There is no appeal, really, from any decision made by an Administrative Review Committee either to the jurisdiction appellate committee or to the Council. That was made clear by JCD 1276.
While this issue should be legislated at General Conference, the Council should have considered the loss of objectivity in cases where all of the routes to challenge an administrative track decision have people on the bodies, including the presiding officers who have already acted on the case. Even more serious is that all those bodies are under the influence of command (lack of separation of powers) of their bishop.
What a dream come true it would be if the Council chose to reconsider JCD 1276 on their own and ruled Paragraph 363.3 is unconstitutional. And find a way to also throw in involuntary retirement and involuntary leave of absence on the same grounds.