JHYPERLINK "http://www.umc.org/decisions/64862/eyJyZXN1bHRfcGFnZSI6IlwvZGVjaXNpb25zXC9zZWFyY2gtcmVzdWx0cyIsImV4YWN0Ijoic2VhcmNoOmRlY2lzaW9uX251bWJlciJ9" http://www.umc.org/decisions/64862/eyJyZXN1bHRfcGFnZSI6IlwvZGVjaXNpb25zXC9zZWFyY2gtcmVzdWx0cyIsImV4YWN0Ijoic2VhcmNoOmRlY2lzaW9uX251bWJlciJ9
RECONSIDERATION OF DROPPING CHARGES AGAINST A BISHOP
The Western Pennsylvania team seeking justice in dealing with an African bishop who they allege (with ample evidence) misused funds sent by them to his conference were denied reconsideration of the decision that closed down their complaint. In JCD 1275, the Council ruled that since the College of Bishops in Africa chose not to forward the charges against the bishop in question, the matter was closed.
The docket does not include the arguments seeking reconsideration so I cannot comment on those. As noted in the update on this blog related to JCD 1275, JCD 1281 essentially closed the case so the Council probably felt that was that.
If past experience means anything, the Council has been put under extreme pressure from the Council of Bishops to back off their occasional efforts to hold the bishops accountable (my terminology, not theirs). Followers of this blog know of my opinion that nearly all bishops with whom I have personally spoken have been respectful, poised, and gracious but that the Council of Bishops as a body influences good bishops to allow bad bishops free reign to seek more and more control with less and less accountability, especially on personnel issues. Someone needs to adapt Reinhold Niebuhr’s MORAL MAN, IMMORAL SOCIETY to the contemporary scene in the United Methodist Church.
It is exceptional when the Council rules in favor of an accused pastor even when the bishop has violated church law, and this Council has done that more than any other since 1992-1996. Church law is usually there to aid the oppressed and block abuse of power and the Council has sometimes been creative in seeking that out.
Not having anything more than what has been reported in the past to put Western Pennsylvania’s request in context, it may be that church law is not complete enough to overcome actions (or failure of actions) in our system of holding of a bishop accountable.
In any case, because of this ruling no matter what the Council intends, the bishop in question and his episcopal brothers and sisters can feel a little better protected from challenges to the authority they want to have.