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May 2, 2000         GC-002

Judicial Council begins spring session with 2 decisions

CLEVELAND (UMNS) – Only two cases were on the docket of the United Methodist Judicial Council in the first day of a two-week session that will continue through the denomination’s highest legislative assembly, the General Conference.

Meeting May 1, the church’s supreme court gave conditional approval to the North Alabama Annual (regional) Conference’s sexual misconduct policy for church professionals. The policy, passed at the annual conference’s 1999 session, was approved pending the change of one paragraph to read, “The procedures for reporting and responding to complaints shall be determined in accordance with the provisions of the Book of Discipline.” The book contains the denomination’s constitution, rules, historical documents and other items.

In the other case, the coordinating council of the Philippines Central Conference asked about the election of delegates from one of its annual conferences. The Central Luzon Philippines Annual Conference in April 1999 had cast many ballots in an unsuccessful effort to elect its delegates to the Philippines Central Conference. As a result, the annual conference voted to change the two-thirds majority requirement for electing delegates to first a simple majority and then a simple plurality.

 The Judicial Council ruled that the Book of Discipline and the church’s constitution do not specify the procedures for these elections. Instead, that matter is left to the annual conference as long as the elected delegates meet the criteria mandated in the constitution.

 The council will remain in recess until asked to rule on something by the General Conference or until the assembly ends on May 12. In the meantime, General Conference will elect five members to eight-year terms that begin at the end of General Conference, and a sixth member will be elected to fill four remaining years on an unexpired term. The nine-member council alternates between a majority of clergy and lay members each eight years.

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