Q&A with John Simmons
Name: John Simmons
Role: Clergy Delegate
Appointment: Office on Ministerial Services
Legislative Committee: Judicial Administration
Q: John, you are carrying suitcase. It looks like you are leaving General Conference?
A: It looks that way, doesn’t it? Actually, I’m carrying this heavy suitcase because it is full of background material to help us in our legislative committee meetings.
Q: That is a lot of material. Why so much?
A: Delta Airlines told me it weighed 37 pounds when I checked it on my way to Tampa. I serve on the Judicial Administration Legislative Committee, and we are working on a revision of the clergy judicial trial process. This is support material and background information for our committee.
Q: Concerning the revision of the clergy judicial trial process, what would your committee like to see changed?
A: Well, currently when someone commits a chargeable offense, the last resort is to hold a judicial trial. Right now our church process is modeled after the civil courts — we hold a trial preceding where there are between 80-100 people involved, and it can cost anywhere between $75,000 to $100,000. We are trying to make that trial process more like a church hearing where people speak the truth in love to one another. We need to remember that the church is about relationships.
Q: So, a heavy amount of background material is in your suitcase to go with an equally heavy task.
A: Right. The constitution of the Methodist Church says that every clergy is entitled to a trial and an appeal. Hopefully, what we are working on will make this more of a covenant relationship. This is an exciting process, but this can be a slow process.
Q: How do you mean?
A: Well, think about it. We come here not knowing one another. We have to build some real trust. We have to learn a common language. We have to learn to compromise in order to make progress. All of this is going on while we are holy conferencing about the work and future of our Church. That’s a lot to do, and we have to be intentional about all of that.
Q: Is it challenging to know that all of that needs to be done within a three-day time frame while in your legislative committee?
A: Yes. The rules state that all legislative committees must be done by 9:30 p.m. Saturday to go into the general plenary next week. That puts a lot of pressure to prioritize what your actions are going to be. I’m very hopeful, though, that we will continue to get things accomplished.
To read more about John, please find his bio here