Church Court Says GC2020 Delay Resets Deadlines


Judicial Council members participate during the Feb. 23 morning of prayer at the 2019 special General Conference in St. Louis. (From left) N. Oswald Tweh Sr., Lydia Romão Gulele, the Rev. J. Kabamba Kiboko, Deanell Reece Tacha, the Rev. Luan-Vu Tran and the Rev. Øyvind Helliesen stand in the front row. File photo by Kathleen Barry, UM News.

By Heather Hahn
United Methodist News Service

The United Methodist Church’s top court ruled that any postponement of General Conference resets the submission deadlines for proposed legislation.

The Judicial Council ruling comes as the Commission on the General Conference is considering whether the international lawmaking assembly — already twice postponed by the COVID-19 pandemic — needs to be delayed again.

The commission plans to decide by the end of March whether General Conference can go forward as scheduled on Aug. 29-Sept. 6 this year in Minneapolis. The commission next meets Feb. 24.

Ahead of that meeting, the Judicial Council said the General Conference commission “erred in using the original date as point of reference for the submission deadlines.”

The deadlines for General Conference petitions set out in the Book of Discipline — the denomination’s law book — “are based on the date of the postponed General Conference and reset with each postponement,” the church court said in Decision 1429.

The ruling is among two decisions that the Judicial Council released Feb. 22 as it continues to work through a 22-item docket. The church court previously released six rulings related to a new church law that allows congregations, under limited conditions, to leave the denomination with property.

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