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B. Those Subject to the General Church

1. Identification

5350. The General Church exercises jurisdiction in matters of church discipline over established districts. The General Church has full authority in all matters over developing and provisional districts (Disc. 1003–1034). The General Church may also assume jurisdiction over a local church under some circumstances (5315).

2. Discipline Without a Hearing

5355. Any charge or complaint against an established district (or against a local church over which the General Church has assumed jurisdiction) alleging an offense set forth in 5006 shall be submitted in writing to the General Superintendent. The General Superintendent, together with the General Board or its Executive Board, shall make every effort to clear up such accusations or charges so as to effect an amicable resolution (5004–5018) before any unit, through its officials or board of administration, shall be brought to a hearing, unless a hearing is requested by the accused. 5360. The General Board, or, in the interim of its sessions, the Executive Board, shall have the authority to cite a district (or local church over which jurisdiction has been assumed), through its officials or its board of administration, to appear before it to show cause, why it should not be brought to a hearing or declared to be in a state of disobedience or insubordination for an offense as set forth in 5010. Such a citation shall set forth a clear and definite statement of the charges and any supporting facts or evidence and shall be signed by the General Superintendent and secretary of the General Board, so that the accused may be properly informed of the grounds of the accusation. The order shall be served upon both the chief officer and the secretary of the accused. Should the hearing before the General Board or its Executive Board result in a satisfactory resolution of the matter, with the accused pledging its loyalty to the denomination, no further steps shall be taken.

3. Discipline Involving a Hearing

5365. When the above procedure does not bring about an amicable settlement in the opinion of the General Board, or should the cited officials fail or refuse to appear, an accusation and specifications for offenses as listed in 5010 shall be prepared and submitted in writing (5022) to the General Superintendent and must be sustained by at least three members of The Wesleyan Church. The General Board may appoint or authorize its Executive Board to appoint a general judicial committee, with the chair appointed by the General Superintendent. The findings of the general judicial committee shall be reported to the General Board. A two-thirds majority vote of all members of the general judicial committee shall be required for a verdict of guilty. If the accused district is found guilty of an offense(s), the General Board, by a two-thirds vote of all its members, may place a district found guilty under discipline and suspend all its rights and privileges as a district under the Constitution, or other provisions of The Discipline, and may thereupon appoint the General Superintendent or other person to have charge of the district (Disc. 360:3c, e; cf. 1655:42). If it is a local church which is found guilty, the General Board by a majority vote may place the church under suspension and appoint a designated authority to have charge. Such suspension shall continue until the unit under discipline shall, through its officials, offer a written apology acknowledging its guilt and giving assurance of its loyalty to the denomination and shall also give evidence that the offense has ceased, whereupon the General Board shall end the suspension and reinstate the unit (cf. Disc. 1655:44). A district under discipline shall also be suspended from all rights to acquire, purchase, mortgage, sell, transfer or otherwise dispose of any real property, unless approved by the designated authority appointed to have charge of the district. 5370. An appeal (5062-5068) may be taken by the accused district or local church concerning the verdict and/or the discipline to the General Board of Review. All appeals must be filed with the Executive Director of Communication and Administration within sixty days after the date of the official decision on the matter.

4. Reorganization

5375. Whenever a district under discipline refuses to offer a written apology and assurance of loyalty as set forth in 5365, or whenever the district officials refuse to answer a citation to appear (5360), the General Board or its Executive Board may authorize the General Superintendent to reorganize the district (Disc. 1655:44). The General Superintendent shall ask for an affirmation of loyalty. Those members and ministers of the district who affirm their loyalty to The Wesleyan Church shall be and constitute the district. Those covenant members and ministers of the district who refuse to affirm such loyalty to The Wesleyan Church shall be declared by the General Superintendent as having withdrawn from The Wesleyan Church, and all offices held by such persons shall thereupon be vacated. Those who are thus declared to be the covenant members and ministers of the district shall be entitled to hold and to use all the district property in the manner as set forth in The Discipline and shall be organized to carry on the work of the district. Should the number of loyal ministers and covenant members be fewer than that required for an established district, the district shall be reclassified by the General Board as a provisional district or developing district as the case may be (cf. Disc. 1034; 1042-1045). 5380. If a minister who has been declared withdrawn from the district because of refusal to affirm loyalty to The Wesleyan Church shall desire to be restored, this person may be restored as provided for in 5230-5245. 5385. If a local church whose matter has been assumed by the General Church and has been placed under discipline does not respond appropriately in a reasonable time, the General Superintendent may authorize the district superintendent responsible to reorganize the local church in keeping with 5320.