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Judicial Council to consider question from bishops


By United Methodist News Service

When it meets this spring, the United Methodist Church's supreme court will consider a proposal that would increase the term of the Council of Bishops' president while relieving that person of the duties of supervising a geographical area.

Currently, a president of the council serves for one year as president-elect and one year as president, and at the same time is the spiritual and administrative leader of an area that may include several states or countries. Bishops' duties also include presiding at annual (regional) conferences, and many of them serve on the boards of denominational agencies and other church-related institutions.

The Council of Bishops has asked the United Methodist Judicial Council to rule on the legality of a proposal that would give the president a four-year term and no "residential" duties.

That matter is among a small number of cases that the nine-member court will consider when it meets April 26-27 in Fort Worth, Texas. The court meets twice a year, in spring and fall.

The Coordinating Council of the Philippines Central Conference has asked for a decision on whether a member of the Judicial Council is eligible to serve as a trustee of Wesleyan University-Philippines.

The court has also been asked to review a bishop's decision on the legality of a special clergy session held at a different time and place from the West Ohio Annual Conference's regular session.

The Judicial Council routinely reviews all decisions made by bishops at the business sessions of the church's annual or regional conferences.

Deferred from the council's meeting last October is the review of Bishop Edward Paup's decisions of law regarding the discontinuance of St. Paul United Methodist Church in the Alaska Missionary Conference.

In another matter deferred from fall, the court will review Bishop S. Clifton Ives' ruling on the West Virginia Conference Board of Pensions' use of funds invested with the churchwide Board of Pension and Health Benefits.

And the court will review Bishop Joe Pennel's ruling related to retiree health plan eligibility in the Virginia Annual Conference. This item was deferred from October to provide more time for obtaining information from the conference.

The church's General Council on Finance and Administration has withdrawn its request for a declaratory decision related to the number of bishops assigned to each jurisdiction. That matter had originally been deferred from the Judicial Council's October session.

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