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Judicial Council to decide issues of homosexuality, process

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    CALLED OUT INFORMATION SERVICE ... July 18, 2001 Judicial Council to decide issues of homosexuality, process By United Methodist News Service News media
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 18, 2001
      CALLED OUT INFORMATION SERVICE

      ----------

      July 18, 2001
      Judicial Council to decide issues of homosexuality, process
      By United Methodist News Service
      News media contact: Joretta Purdue �(202) 546-8722�Washington

      The United Methodist Church's policies regarding the practice of
      homosexuality will be at issue in at least two of the 11 cases on the
      docket of the denomination's highest court when it meets Oct. 24-27
      in Nashville, Tenn.

      Many of the cases facing the nine-member Judicial Council came out of
      recent annual (regional) conference meetings. Several relate to
      questions and regulations on clergy leave of absence and fair process
      procedures; others deal with conference structure.

      The Pacific Northwest Annual (regional) Conference has asked the
      three women and six men of the council to decide how to handle two
      provisions of church law that the conference says are contradictory.
      According to the denomination's Book of Discipline, ordained clergy
      in good standing must be appointed to a church, but during the
      Pacific Northwest's annual meeting, two clergy members were denied
      such appointments because they had revealed that they are practicing
      homosexuals, while a third pastor was continued on disability leave.
      The book also prohibits appointing homosexual pastors to lead
      congregations.

      The Judicial Council will consider a decision of law by Bishop Elias
      Galvan, who leads the Pacific Northwest Conference. Galvan's decision
      concerns an annual conference resolution seeking a special called
      session of the Western Jurisdiction to clarify and implement a stand
      on homosexuality and the church. Whenever a bishop makes a decision
      of law during an annual conference session, the decision is
      automatically submitted to the Judicial Council for review.

      Meeting in June, members of the Desert Southwest Conference affirmed
      by a 191-137 vote the "We Shall Not Be Silent" statement, adopted by
      the church's Western Jurisdiction in July 2000. The resolution
      declares the jurisdiction's intent to work for full participation of
      sexual minorities in the life of the church.

      When the Desert Southwest session vote was announced, Bishop William
      W. Dew Jr., who was presiding, was asked if the action was in accord
      with the Book of Discipline. He announced that it is. The church
      court will review his decision of law.

      The court also will review a decision of law in the South Carolina
      Conference regarding a clergy member placed on involuntary leave of
      absence during a judicial process, and another decision of law in the
      Illinois Great Rivers Conference regarding the termination of leave
      for a clergy member.

      The California-Pacific Conference has asked for two declaratory
      decisions. One question from the conference relates to the role of
      the administrative review committee in the administrative or judicial
      process for clergy. The other question seeks a ruling on the
      appropriateness of a cabinet member participating in the
      administrative processes of the conference board of ordained
      ministry.

      Western North Carolina has asked for a declaratory decision on the
      constitutionality of the requirement that membership in the annual
      conference include the conference director of lay speaking
      ministries, a young person between the ages of 12 and 17, and another
      young person between 18 and 30.

      North Georgia has asked the council to decide if the provisions of
      its new insurance plan are in accordance with the Book of Discipline.

      West Virginia has submitted a plan for restructuring its conference.
      The plan was approved at the 2001 conference session.

      The Holston Annual Conference has resubmitted a structure plan as
      required by the council's Decision 835 in October 1998 and subsequent
      decisions.

      Anyone may submit a written opinion or brief on any of the docket
      items. The council's Web site, with a list of the court's procedures
      and practices, offers guidance in the process. The address is
      http://umc.org/churchlibrary/judicial/procedure.htm on the World Wide
      Web.



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