The Council of Bishops expresses its deep gratitude to the Judicial Council for its careful review of the actions of the 2019 General Conference. The Judicial Council’s decisions are clear and sound, and they give helpful guidance to the Church.
In Decision 1378, the Judicial Council ruled that the constitutional parts of the Traditional Plan enacted by the General Conference were severable from those parts that it ruled were unconstitutional. The parts of the Traditional Plan that were declared unconstitutional during the General Conference were held again to be unconstitutional.
In Decision 1379, the Judicial Council ruled that the disaffiliation petition passed by the General Conference is constitutional and clarified that the annual conference must approve a local church’s decision to disaffiliate with the denomination in addition to the other requirements set forth in the new legislation.
These are some of the important rulings:
Our polity disperses authority to lay and clergy delegates to General Conferences in writing legislation and to the Judicial Council in interpreting the constitutionality of that legislation. Bishops are in the role of providing spiritual and administrative leadership, which is to say, putting in practice the discernments of these two bodies. While additional questions may arise as the new church laws take effect January 1, 2020 (except in Central Conferences), today’s decisions provide a path for local churches and annual conferences to move forward. As disciples of Jesus Christ, we pray that we will fulfill the law through our love for one another (Galatians 5. 14).
The peace of the Lord,
-- Ken Carter
President, Council of Bishops
The United Methodist Church