Petition 81134

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Arbitration (81134-JA-¶2800)

   Add a new Section III. Arbitration (¶¶ 2800-2803) to Chapter Seven of the Discipline (Judicial Administration), per ¶ 507.2 (composite petition) as shown:
Section III. Arbitration
   ¶ 2800. Arbitration in a local church—Should any disagreement arise between members of a congregation of The United Methodist Church relating to debts or demands which the parties concerned cannot peaceably adjust, the minister shall inquire into the circumstances of the case, and if necessary the minister shall recommend to the contending parties to submit the matter to the decision of arbiters, one arbiter each to be chosen severally by the parties concerned and the third to be named by the two chosen arbiters, provided that such arbiters are all members of The United Methodist Church.
   ¶ 2801. Appeal—Should either of the parties be dissatisfied with the decision rendered, such party may appeal to the Church Council or alternative body (¶¶ 244.2, 247.2) for a second arbitration, and if that body sees sufficient cause, it shall grant the appeal. Each party shall then choose two arbiters and these four shall choose a fifth, the judgment of the majority shall be final (see ¶ 2803).
   ¶ 2802. Abritration beyond the local church—1. Should a similar disagreement arise between members of different local churches within the same district, the disputants shall refer the dispute to the district superintendent who shall initiate the procedures outlined in ¶¶ 2800-2801 at the district level (see also ¶ 2803).
    2. Should a similar disagreement arise between members of different districts within the same annual conference, the disputants shall refer the dispute to the presiding bishop who shall initiate the procedures outlined in ¶¶ 2800-2801 at the annual conference level (see also ¶ 2803)
    3. Should a similar disagreement arise between members of different annual conferences or between agency staff members or between a local church member and an agency staff member, the disputants shall refer the dispute to the president of the Council of Bishops who shall initiate the procedures outlined in ¶¶ 2800-2801. Arbiters need not be members of the Council of Bishops (see also ¶ 2803).
   ¶ 2803. Enforcement of Arbitration Decisions—If, on appeal, in any of the arbitration procedures outlined in ¶¶ 2800-2802, either of the parties refuses to abide by the arbiters' decision, then the arbiters shall refer the refusal back to that member’s local church to pursue the procedures set forth in ¶¶ 2702.3, 2706.5, and 2714.


Rationale

Christians’ suing other Christians violates 1 Corinthians 6:1-8 and our General Rules. EUB’s and Methodists once ordered arbitration instead. These paragraphs update the EUB procedure, extending arbitration to members of different congregations and addressing gender-neutrality concerns. ¶ 2803, like EUB policy, makes non-compliance with arbitration decisions a chargeable offense.