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Council settles Philippines’ dispute


5:00 P.M. EST May 24, 2010

A UMNS photo illustration by Yanik Chauvin/iStock Photo.
A UMNS photo illustration by Yanik Chauvin/iStock Photo.

In February, two competing versions of the same regional United Methodist body in the Philippines met to make clergy appointments and carry out other business.

However, which of the two meetings of the Middle Philippines Annual Conference – part of the Manila Area of The United Methodist Church in the Philippines – had the authority to conduct conference business?

During a May 21-22 special session near the Atlanta airport, the United Methodist Judicial Council affirmed the decision of Bishop Daniel C. Arichea Jr. in the matter.

The Wesleyan University Philippines site of the Middle Philippines Annual Conference “was validly chosen and designated by a majority of the district superintendents with the consent of the bishop in charge,” the denomination’s top court ruled.

Any actions taken outside of the session at Wesleyan University Philippines “are null, void, and of no effect.”

Ruben T. Reyes, a Judicial Council member from the Philippines, recused himself from the decision and the proceedings. Jay Arthur Garrison, first lay alternate for the council, replaced him.

The council’s action related to a decision at its April meeting when it ruled that the Philippines College of Bishops was authorized to handle a complaint against the Manila Area Bishop Lito C. Tangonan, which accused him of misconduct under Paragraph 2702 of the Discipline. The council provided no details.

Both of the cases before the Judicial Council reflect the current conflict among members of The United Methodist Church in the Philippines.

Dispute over location

Arichea was appointed on Jan. 20 to lead the Manila Area while Tangonan was under investigation. Afterward, a decision was made to hold the Feb. 22-25 Middle Philippines Annual Conference at Wesleyan University Philippines, rather than the Carmen United Methodist Church, a site chosen earlier that month.

Bishop Daniel C. Arichea  Jr.
Bishop Daniel C. Arichea Jr.
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A dispute arose within the conference over the change in venue. According to the Judicial Council decision, Arichea declined to move the meeting back to the original site, a change allowed if approved by a majority of the district superintendents with the consent of the bishop.

The bishop also appointed four new district superintendents to serve until regular appointments were made during the conference. Three of the appointees met with Arichea on Feb. 18 and supported the Wesleyan University location.

But some members of the Middle Philippines Annual Conference met at the Carmen church site anyway. During the annual conference session at Wesleyan, a clergy member requested a bishop’s decision of law regarding “the status of the annual conference session being concurrently held at Carmen UMC, Carmen Zaragoza.”

Arichea ruled that the sessions in Carmen were a violation of the Discipline and declared that “any actions taken there, including appointments, do not have any validity.”

Judicial Council concluded that the proper disciplinary procedures were followed in determining the conference’s new location.

*Bloom is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in New York.

News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

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