¶ 413. Complaints Against Bishops-1. Episcopal leadership in The United Methodist Church shares with all other ordained persons in the sacred trust of their ordination. The ministry of bishops as set forth in The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church also flows from the gospel as taught by Jesus the Christ and proclaimed by his apostles (¶ 403). Whenever a bishop violates this trust or is unable to fulfill appropriate responsibilities, continuation in the episcopal office shall be subject to review. This review shall have as its primary
purpose a just resolution of any violations of this sacred trust, in the hope that God’s work of justice, reconciliation, and healing may be realized.
2. Any complaint concerning the effectiveness, competence, or one or more of the offenses listed in ¶ 2702 shall be submitted to the president of the College of Bishops in that jurisdictional or central conference. If the complaint concerns the president, it shall be submitted to the secretary of the College of Bishops. A complaint is a written statement claiming misconduct, unsatisfactory performance of ministerial duties, or one or more of the offenses listed in ¶ 2702.9 For the purposes of this paragraph, the United Methodist bishops of the central conferences shall constitute one college of bishops.
3. After receiving a complaint as provided in § 413.2, the president and the secretary of the College of Bishops, or the secretary and another member of the college if the complaint concerns the president (or the president and another member of the college if the complaint concerns the secretary), in consultation with a lay and clergy member of the jurisdictional or central conference committee on episcopacy appointed by the chair of the jurisdictional or central conference committee on episcopacy, shall make a supervisory response.10
a) When deemed appropriate to protect the well-being of the complainant, the Church and/or bishop, the College of Bishops, in consultation with the jurisdictional or central conference committee on episcopacy, may suspend the bishop from all episcopal responsibilities for a period not to exceed sixty days. During the suspension, salary, housing and benefits will continue.
b) The supervisory response is pastoral and administrative and shall be directed toward a just resolution. It is not a part of any judicial process. The supervisory response should be carried out in a confidential manner and should be completed within 120 days. There may be 2 additional extentions of 120 days if the supervising Bishop determines that an extension will be productive. The supervising Bishop shall regularly advise all parties of the status of the process and shall notify all parties within 7 days after a determination is made that the supervisory response will not lead to a resolution of the matter.
No verbatim record shall be made and legal counsel shall not be present, although the bishop against whom the complaint was made and the Complainant both may choose another person to accompany him or her, with the right to voice. At the determination of the president (secretary), persons with qualifications and experience in assessment, intervention, or healing may be selected to assist in the supervisory responses. Others may be consulted as well.
c) The supervisory response may include a process seeking a just resolution in which the parties are assisted by a trained, impartial third party facilitator(s) or mediator(s) in reaching an agreement satisfactory to all parties. (See ¶ 362.1[b]). The appropriate persons, including the president of the College of Bishops, or the secretary if the complaint concerns the president, should enter into a written agreement outlining such process, including an agreement as to confidentiality. If resolution is achieved, a written statement of resolution, including terms and conditions, shall be signed by the parties and the parties shall agree on any matters to be disclosed to third parties. Such written statement of resolution shall be given to the person in charge of that stage of the process for further action consistent with the agreement.
d) If the supervisory response results in the resolution of the matter, the bishop in charge of the supervisory response shall monitor the fulfillment of the terms of the resolution. If the supervisory response does not result in resolution of the matter, the president or secretary of the College of Bishops may refer the matter as an Administrative Complaint (¶ 413.3[e]) or a Judicial Complaint (¶ 2704.1).
e) Administrative Complaint-If the complaint is based on allegations of incompetence, ineffectiveness, or unwillingness or inability to perform episcopal duties, the president and secretary of the College of Bishops (or the two members of the college who are handling the complaint) may refer the complaint to the jurisdictional or central conference committee on episcopacy.11 The committee may recommend involuntary retirement (¶ 409.3), disability leave (¶ 411.4), remedial measures (¶ 362.4a), other appropriate action, or it may dismiss the complaint. When the jurisdictional or central conference committee on episcopacy deems the matter serious enough and when one or more offenses listed in ¶ 2702 are involved, the committee may refer the complaint back to the president and secretary of the College of Bishops (or the two members of the college who are handling the complaint) for referral as a judicial complaint to the jurisdictional or central conference committee on investigation. The provisions of ¶ 362.3 for fair process in administrative hearings shall apply to this administrative process.
4. Any actions of the jurisdictional or central conference committee taken on a complaint shall be reported to the next session of the jurisdictional or central conference.
9. See Judicial Council Decision 751.
10. See Judicial Council Decision 763.
11. See Judicial Council Decision 784.