(United Methodist News Service) The United Methodist Judicial Council has begun to release decisions from its 22-item fall docket. These Judicial Council rulings cover decisions of law that bishops made during the 2020 and 2021 annual conference seasons.
The Judicial Council affirmed both Decisions of Law made by Bishop Sue Haupert-Johnson at the 2021 North Georgia Annual Conference.
Before the court was whether annual conference members can amend a congregation’s disaffiliation agreement when it comes to the floor for a vote.
In Decision 1420, the Judicial Council affirmed the decision of law by Bishop Haupert-Johnson that an annual conference’s authority is limited to a simple yes or no vote.
The church court notes that under the Discipline, a local church “cannot sever its connectional relationship to The United Methodist Church without the consent of the annual conference.” The Judicial Council has construed this provision to mean that the annual conference must ratify any disaffiliation agreement.
“Consequently, ratification in this context denotes the retroactive approval by a vote up or down by the members of an annual conference but does not include the right to amend the disaffiliation agreement,” the church court ruled.
In Decision 1422, the Judicial Council affirmed another decision by Haupert-Johnson. During annual conference, a lay member asked the bishop whether a church that identifies itself as traditional could use Paragraph 2553. In this context, “traditional” means a church that supports the denominational restrictions around homosexuality.
Haupert-Johnson said she found no ruling of law was required “because the North Georgia Annual Conference Board of Trustees has indicated that it will not question ‘the reasons of conscience’ behind a church’s decision to disaffiliate.”
Read the full article by United Methodist News Service at https://www.umnews.org/en/news/church-court-clarifies-disaffiliation-rules.