2016 Wesleyan Discipline: 5203-5215
2. Discipline Without a Hearing
5203. District officials and official bodies dealing with one of the above persons accused of an offense as set forth in 2016 Wesleyan Discipline:5010 are bound to follow as much as is appropriate the provisions of The General Board Policy for Church Discipline and Ministerial Restoration (2016 Wesleyan Discipline:5004) before conducting a hearing.
3. Discipline Involving a Hearing
5206. Jurisdiction. Original jurisdiction over the persons listed in 2016 Wesleyan Discipline:5200 ordinarily belongs to the district in which their ministerial membership, or for laypersons, their membership, is held. The exceptions are for those who serve as general officers or members of the General Board or who are otherwise employed by the General Board, and district superintendents. These are subject to the jurisdiction of the General Church (Disc. 2016 Wesleyan Discipline:323:1; 2016 Wesleyan Discipline:1180:12; GBP-2016 Wesleyan Discipline:5270).
- (1) Jurisdiction shall be exercised on behalf of the district by the district board of administration for any and all charges brought against such persons.
- (2) Accusations alleging an offense (5010) against one of the persons in 2016 Wesleyan Discipline:5200 shall be submitted to the district superintendent (Disc. 2016 Wesleyan Discipline:1310:31; GBP-2016 Wesleyan Discipline:5022). The accusation shall then be presented to the district board of administration. The district board of administration shall have authority to order the investigation (2016 Wesleyan Discipline:5012; 2016 Wesleyan Discipline:5024) and hearing if necessary. Any charge must be sustained by two or more members or ministers of The Wesleyan Church.
- (3) If an accusation alleges an offense committed by a person under the jurisdiction of the district in a district other than that in which the accused holds membership, the district superintendent and the district board of administration of the district in which the offense was allegedly committed shall have jurisdiction over the official investigation (2016 Wesleyan Discipline:5012). If an accusation is to be drawn up, it shall be submitted through the General Superintendent to the district in which the accused holds membership.
5209. District Judicial Committee. Charges against a person under district jurisdiction shall be heard and determined by a district judicial committee, appointed by the district board of administration for that particular matter. District judicial committees also are appointed for matters involving a local church or other unit (see 2016 Wesleyan Discipline:5310).
- (1) A district judicial committee shall consist of four ordained ministers and three lay covenant members, appointed by the district board of administration (Disc. 2016 Wesleyan Discipline:1233:40), as the occasion may arise, from among its own members or the members of the district, and the district board of administration may request the General Superintendent to appoint a general official as one member. In any case, the General Superintendent shall be notified of the hearing. Members of the district board of review may not serve as members of the district judicial committee. The committee shall serve from the time of its appointment until it shall hear and resolve the accusation.
- (2) The district board of administration shall appoint the chair or may request the General Superintendent to do so. The chair of the district judicial committee shall preside over the hearing and shall conduct it according to this General Board Policy for Church Discipline and Ministerial Restoration (2016 Wesleyan Discipline:5020–5068) and The Discipline.
- (3) It shall be the duty of the district judicial committee to hear and determine the charges, to render a verdict declaring the accused, either guilty or not guilty and to recommend the discipline (cf. 2016 Wesleyan Discipline:5023; 2016 Wesleyan Discipline:5212; 2016 Wesleyan Discipline:5215), if any, to be imposed by the district board of administration. A two-thirds majority vote of all members of the district judicial committee shall be required for a verdict of guilty. The discipline may take the form of admonition, rebuke, suspension, removal or dismissal, and said board may also require apology or restitution.
- (4) The accused may appeal the verdict and/or discipline to the district board of review within thirty days (2016 Wesleyan Discipline:5062–5068; 2016 Wesleyan Discipline:5221).
4. Special Regulations
5212. The administration of discipline to credentialed persons under the jurisdiction of the district (2016 Wesleyan Discipline:5200:1-3) shall be in accord with the following regulations:
- (1) Indiscreet Conduct. Whenever a minister, ministerial student, or special worker has been charged with an offense alleging sexual immorality and is not found guilty of such actions but rather of imprudence or indiscreet conduct, the offender shall be subject to admonition, rebuke, suspension or removal, according to the seriousness of the offense. (See 1 Tim. 5:19–20.)
- (2) Suspension. Whenever a minister shall be suspended from the ministry, or a ministerial student or special worker shall be suspended from such office, all credentials shall be surrendered to the custody of the district superintendent (cf. Disc. 2016 Wesleyan Discipline:1310:32). Whenever such a person shall furnish the district superintendent a written apology acknowledging guilt and pledging to correct the matter, and gives evidence that the offense has ceased and that the person is repentant, the district board of administration may end the suspension, reinstate the person, and authorize the return of all credentials. If the written apology and assurance are not forthcoming, and the accused does not exercise the right of appeal, the district board of administration shall declare that the said person has withdrawn from the district, and said person’s credentials shall be forwarded to the Executive Director of Communication and Administration (cf. Disc. 2016 Wesleyan Discipline:1233:40; 2016 Wesleyan Discipline:1310:32; GBP-2016 Wesleyan Discipline:5230).
- (3) Sexual immorality. Whenever a minister, ministerial student or special worker shall have been convicted by a judicatory of such immoral acts as fornication, adultery or homosexual behavior, or has confessed to such acts to the official body having jurisdiction, the individual shall be removed from the ministry or from the office of a ministerial student or special worker, as the case may be (see 1 Cor. 5:1–13; 6:9–11). This shall not prohibit membership in a Wesleyan church when the guilty person repents and demonstrates a Christian life according to the standards of The Wesleyan Church. Anyone who has been removed for such an offense may be considered for restoration as provided for in 2016 Wesleyan Discipline:5230–5245.
- (4) Removal (2016 Wesleyan Discipline:5023:4). A minister who has been removed from the ministry, or a ministerial student or special worker who has been removed from such office, shall immediately surrender all credentials to the district superintendent (cf. Disc. 2016 Wesleyan Discipline:1310:31; 2016 Wesleyan Discipline:3085:4; GBP-2016 Wesleyan Discipline:5230), shall cease to exercise any of the functions of the ministry, or of a commission or license, as the case may be, and shall not occupy any pulpit in The Wesleyan Church. Such a person’s compensation and benefits, or a comparable family living allowance, shall be determined by a plan mutually agreed upon by the local board of administration and the district superintendent. Whenever anyone who has been expelled from the ministry or a commission or license shall appeal, the discipline may be deferred with the exception that such a person shall be suspended from the exercise of any office or of any particular service while the appeal is pending (cf. 2016 Wesleyan Discipline:5066).
- (5) Dismissal (2016 Wesleyan Discipline:5023:5). In matters where the actions or the attitude of the removed person is especially grievous, the district board of administration has full power to dismiss the person from membership in The Wesleyan Church, and the involved local church, when officially informed of this action, shall so indicate in its membership records. If the district board of administration removes the person but does not choose to dismiss from membership, the district secretary shall notify the local board of administration of the accusations, findings, and discipline and leave the matter of membership to the local church.
5215. The administration of discipline to other persons under the jurisdiction of the district (2016 Wesleyan Discipline:5200:4–6) shall be in accord with the following regulations:
- (1) A supply pastor or interim pastor who is a minister or a member of another denomination or who is a minister in process of transfer from another denomination is not subject to a hearing or appeal by The Wesleyan Church. Such a person may simply be removed from appointment by the district board of administration (Disc. 2016 Wesleyan Discipline:3104:4; 2016 Wesleyan Discipline:3260:5).
- (2) A lay district officer or a lay member whose matter has been assumed by the district shall be subject to the judicial jurisdiction of the district.