The author of the standard textbook on United Methodist Polity issued a letter to Council of Bishops calling on them not to be “servile to the General Conference” and to bring an end to church trials.
I don’t have time today to write about it, but thought some of my readers might be interested in taking a look at at the story over at the UM Reporter.
The continuation of church trials is a disgrace to our heritage. It is divisive, bringing interference from interest groups outside the annual conference and introducing the language of “prosecution,” “defense team,” “conviction,” “judge,” and “jury” to our church as if we were all players in “Law and Order.” We are not considering criminal acts; we are deliberating about pastoral judgment. Trials are an exorbitant expense for a process that does no good for our church. Of course, any member of our church has the constitutional right to request a trial. But at this moment, I do not see other circumstances under which our church should be conducting them.