Chapter 2 – Discipline and Reinstatement of a Member
A. Discipline Involving a Hearing
5105. Jurisdiction. Original jurisdiction over a member ordinarily belongs to the local church of which the person is a member. (For exceptions, see 5020:2.)
- (1) Accusations against a member shall be submitted to the pastor (Disc. 725:15; GBP-5022). If there is no pastor, or if the pastor does not attend to the matter, the accusation shall be submitted to a member of the local board of administration. In either case, the accusation shall be presented to the local board of administration. Inquiry shall be made, and the local board of administration shall have charge of ordering an investigation (5012; 5024) and hearing if necessary. Any charge against a member must be sustained by two or more members of The Wesleyan Church. Whenever a hearing is ordered, the district superintendent shall be notified. If the accused member is a person licensed, commissioned or ordained by a district, or holding a district office, or serving or being employed by the General Church, the appropriate official shall be notified of the accusation(s) and proceedings.
- (2) The authority of a local board of administration for a developing church shall be exercised by the district superintendent (Disc. 1310:15).
- (3) The district superintendent, when requested to do so by the local board of administration, shall have authority to provide for any unusual circumstances not provided for in The General Board Policy for Church Discipline and Ministerial Restoration, and to appoint, when necessary, any members from another Wesleyan church in the district or ministers from the district to a local judicial committee (GBP-5110:1–2; cf. Disc. 1310:18).
- (4) When a member, who resides away from the church in which membership is held and attends another Wesleyan church, is accused of improper or immoral conduct, the pastor and the local board of administration where the member attends shall have authority to make an official investigation of such accusation (5012). If, pursuant to such investigation, an accusation is drawn up against such a member, it shall be presented to the pastor of the local church where the accused holds membership.
5110. Local Judicial Committee. Charges against a member shall ordinarily be heard and determined by a local judicial committee (cf. 5125).
- (1) A local judicial committee shall consist of not fewer than three covenant members (cf. 5054), which shall be selected by the local board of administration (cf. 5105:3), as the occasion may arise, from its own membership or the membership of the local church (Disc. 782:12; 970). The committee shall serve from the time of its appointment until it shall hear and determine the matter.
- (2) The local board of administration shall designate the chair or may request the district superintendent to do so (cf. 5105:3). The chair of the local judicial committee shall be the presiding officer and shall conduct the proceedings in accord with this General Board Policy for Church Discipline and Ministerial Restoration.
- (3) It shall be the duty of the local judicial committee to hear and determine the charges, to render a verdict concerning the guilt or no guilt of the accused, and to recommend to the local board of administration the discipline, if any, to be imposed (5115–5120). A two-thirds majority vote of all members of the committee shall be required to render a verdict. Discipline, if required, shall be administered by the local board of administration, and may take the form of admonition, rebuke, suspension, removal or dismissal, and said board may also require apology or restitution.
- (4) An appeal may be taken concerning the verdict and/or discipline to the district board of review, within thirty days (5221:1; 5062–5068).
B. Disciplinary Measures
5115. Definition of Penalties. There shall be five degrees of discipline for the administration of discipline, as outlined in paragraph 5023.
5120. Assignment of Disciplinary Measures. The local board of administration shall be governed by the seriousness of the offense and by the following regulations in the assignment of disciplinary measures:
- (1) Anyone declared guilty of holding or teaching any doctrine contrary to the Articles of Religion of The Wesleyan Church as stated in The Discipline (5010:1) shall be dismissed (5023:5), unless the local board of administration is of the opinion that the offense has ceased, in which case the discipline shall be either that of admonition, rebuke, or suspension.
- (2) Disobedience to The Discipline, or tolerating such disobedience (5010:2), shall result in such discipline as deemed advisable.
- (3) Willful refusal to recognize properly constituted authority (5010:3) shall result in such discipline as deemed advisable.
- (4) Conduct unbecoming a member (5010:4), including but not limited to dishonesty, or sowing dissension, shall result in removal and/or dismissal (5023:4-5), unless the local board of administration believes the offender is truly penitent, in which case the offender shall be rebuked or indefinitely suspended (5023:2-3) until such time as the proper authorities are satisfied that the accused has reasonably demonstrated genuine Christian character in accord with the standards of The Wesleyan Church.
- (5) Sexual immorality, including but not limited to adultery, fornication, homosexual practice or other acts involving moral turpitude shall result in immediate dismissal from the Church (Disc. 265:5; GBP-5023:5).
- (6) Serious or persistent neglect of duties (5010:6) shall result in suspension or removal, unless corrected, in which case a lesser discipline may be imposed.
C. Reinstatement of a Member
5130. After being dismissed from church membership, a former member may be reinstated by the local church which dismissed the member when such a person evidences a genuine repentance and meets the requirements for membership. If the former member is joining another local church, the receiving church should first consult with the dismissing church to make sure that all necessary corrections and restitutions have been cared for properly. If the former member was dismissed by a district or by the General Church, the receiving local church must first secure the approval of the dismissing unit. (See 2 Cor. 2:5–11.)