Petition 81411

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Complaint Against Professing Member (81411-JA-¶228.2b5)

Amend ¶228.2.b)(5) as follows:
  
228.2.b)(5) “ When a professing member is charged with an offense and wishes to forego trial, the charge conference may permit the member to withdraw (¶ 2719.3). In this case, the notation ‘Withdrawn under charges’ shall be entered alongside the member’s name on the record, along with the date.”   
   (i) A written grievance or complaint may be made against a professing member who is convicted of a felony in a court of law; engages in immoral sexual conduct; becomes addicted to alcoholic beverage, illicit or prescription drugs, gambling, or other commonly recognized vice; disseminates doctrines contrary to the established standards of doctrines within The United Methodist Church; violates any child by verbal, physical, or sexual abuse; practices or promotes racial or gender discrimination or harassment; becomes habitually disruptive during worship services and other church meetings; or engages in a relationship(s) or behavior(s) that undermines the ministry of a person serving within an appointment or which otherwise demonstrates a life that does not become the gospel.
    (ii) The grievance or complaint shall be served on the pastor of the local church and the district superintendent. The pastor shall notify the professing member of the existence and nature of the grievance or complaint and shall take pastoral steps to resolve any grievances or complaints. Such steps may include a just resolution process. See¶ 362.1(b) for a discussion of a just resolution. If after such steps have been taken and have not resulted in a resolution, the pastor in consultation with the district superintendent may appoint counsel for the Church who shall be a United Methodist. Counsel for the Church shall prepare and draft a formal complaint to be presented to the charge conference. The complaint shall be served on the professing member at least 30 days before the charge conference is convened. The professing member shall be allowed to have counsel who shall be a United Methodist clergyperson or layperson.
    (iii) At the charge conference both counsel for the Church and the professing member shall be given a hearing and allowed to present witnesses and produce evidence which is relevant to the complaint which shall not include hearsay. At the conclusion of the hearing the complainant, the accused professing member, their counsel, and any witnesses who made statements shall all be excused from the presence and hearing of the conference. The district superintendent or other presiding elder shall then ask those members of the charge conference who are present to decide if the allegations in the complaint are true or not true. The standard of proof shall be by clear and convincing evidence. This vote may be by written ballot. If at least two-thirds of those voting say “True” then the complaint is held to be True. If less than two-thirds of those voting say “Not True” then the complaint is held Not to be True and the allegations contained therein dismissed from any further presentation.
    (iv) If the complaint is held to be True the layperson shall have his or her membership in the United Methodist Church terminated unless a majority of the members of the charge conference present and voting decide by separate vote, which may also be by written ballot, that a less severe remedy is appropriate, in which case the procedures outlined in ¶ 221 shall be followed.  
          (v) The holdings of the charge conference on these matters shall be final.
   (vi) If a professing member charged by complaint wishes to forego a hearing before the charge conference, the charge conference may permit the member to withdraw (¶ 2719.3). In this case, the notation “Withdrawn under complaint” shall be entered alongside the member’s name on the record, along with the date.”
    

Rationale

This Administrative Complaint process provides a viable replacement for the out dated Judicial Complaint process for lay persons. A hearing rather than a trial to consider the misadventures of lay persons seems clearly more appropriate, less wieldy, and less complicated.