Important Judicial Council Ruling Clarification

For months we had thought that the Council of Bishops, in consultation with the Commission on a Way Forward, would report to the General Conference 2019. The Judicial Council has stated that the reverse is true. It is the Commission on a Way Forward, in consultation with the Council of Bishops, that is to report to General Conference 2019.

Clarification on this issue can be found in the footnotes on the third page of the Judicial Council's ruling It reads as follows:

"The undertaking of a "complete examination" of the subject of human sexuality presupposes that there will be some kind of report, document or study which supports the "possible revision of every paragraph in our Book of Discipline regarding human sexuality," which, in turn, presupposes that the Commission (not the Council of Bishops) will put forth legislation to fix the problem. The special called General Conference is to consider "their work," i.e., whatever the Commission desires to put before General Conference in terms of its "complete examination.”

However, in passing, we note that the question here is whether a special commission created by the General Conference can report to a body other than the General Conference. Specifically, is the Commission on a Way Forward amenable to the General Conference or the Council of Bishops, and can it present its findings and report to the General Conference through the Council? See JCD 424.

There is nothing in the proceedings of the 2016 General Conference suggesting that the Commission on a Way Forward was supposed to submit its recommendations to the Council of Bishops. Similarly, there is no evidence in the legislative debate prior to the vote on the motion indicating that the Council of Bishops would develop specific legislative proposals based on the recommendations of the Commission and present them to the called special session of the General Conference.

The language of An Offering strongly suggests that “the work” of the Commission on a Way Forward, and only this body, is the rationale for calling a special session of the General Conference."

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