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May 9, 2000 GC-040

Delegates elect first Judicial Council member from outside U.S.

CLEVELAND (UMNS) — General Conference 2000 has elected six new members of United Methodism’s "supreme court," including the first member from outside the United States.

Layman Rodolfo Beltran, an attorney, former conference lay leader and three-time General Conference delegate from the Philippines Central Conference, was one of three lay and three clergy members elected May 8 for terms on the denomination’s Judicial Council.

The nine-member Judicial Council determines the constitutionality of actions by the General Conference, jurisdiction or conference judicatory, according to church law in the Book of Discipline. General Conference, the denomination’s highest governing body, elects members at its quadrennial meetings. The usual term of office is eight years. Five of the vacancies filled were of persons completing an eight-year term; the Rev. Jane Tews of Phoenix was elected to fill an unexpired term of four years.

The Judicial Council will organize May 11 and new members will take office at the close of General Conference on May 12.

Other lay members elected by the 2000 General Conference were Mary Daffin, an attorney and member of First United Methodist Church, Houston, and James Holsinger, a physician who serves as chancellor of the Chandler Medical Center at the University of Kentucky.

Clergy elected to the Judicial Council were: Tews, a district superintendent in the Desert Southwest Conference and a former municipal court judge; the Rev. Keith Boyette, pastor of Wilderness Community United Methodist Church, Fredericksburg, Va., and a former trial attorney; and the Rev. Larry Pickens, an attorney and pastor of Maple Park United Methodist Church in Chicago. Pickens served as counsel for the Rev. Greg Dell, who was convicted in a March 1999 church trial of violating church law by performing a same-sex union ceremony.

Three members of the council will continue the last half of their eight-year term: the Rev. C. Rex Bevins of Lincoln, Neb.; Sally Curtis AsKew of Bogart, Ga.; and Thomas Matheny, a Hammond, La., attorney. Matheny was first elected to the council in 1972, and has served as president for an unprecedented 24 years. Ill health prevented him from attending the May 2-12 General Conference in Cleveland, but delegates sent greetings and prayers.

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--M. Garlinda Burton

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