The Council of Bishops is urging the Judicial Council to declare that the business of the 2019 Special Session of the General Conference of The United Methodist Church be “limited to receiving and acting upon a report from the Council of Bishops based on the recommendations of the Commission on a Way Forward” as stated in the April 24, 2017, call.

This argument was made during the oral hearing of the case in which the bishops asked for a declaratory decision from the Judicial Council on the meaning, application and effect of Paragraph 14 of the Constitution in relation to Paragraph 507 of the 2016 Book of Discipline.

Specifically, the bishops are asking: “If petitions are in harmony with the restricted purpose stated in the Council of Bishops’ call on April 24, 2017 as determined by a two-thirds vote of the General Conference and if the petitions are post-marked or received by July 8, 2018, may organizations of The United Methodist Church, clergy members, and lay members submit petitions to the special General Conference session called for February 23-26, 2019 that are not consistent with the ‘report from the Council of Bishops based on the recommendations of the Commission on a Way Forward’ as stated in the call?”

Speaking of behalf of the bishops, Immediate Past President Bishop Bruce R. Ough urged the court to answer the question in negative. “Opening the door to any organization, clergy member or lay member of The United Methodist church to determine if a petition is in harmony with the stated purpose for a special session would, in effect, nullify Section II, Article II of the Constitution. Any special session would, in effect, become a regular session. This is a dangerous precedent.”

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