Information regarding the complaint process
October 31, 2022 | by Western Jurisdiction College of Bishops
Many questions have been raised about the complaints brought against Bishop Minerva Carcaño, resident bishop of the California-Nevada Annual Conference, for violating the sacred trust of ordained ministry. The Western Jurisdiction began a process of responding to complaints on March 9, 2022.
What are the complaints about?
The complaint process maintains a high degree of confidentiality. Everyone involved in any way with a complaint process is pledged to confidentiality. The church cannot and will not share the identity of a person filing a complaint or the contents of the complaint. However, when a complaint is received, the process* is as follows:
- Complaints are received and the respondent is notified
- A supervisory response team is formed to seek a just resolution between parties;
- If no just resolution is possible, the complaint is sent to a counsel for the church (an ordained clergy person) who drafts a judicial complaint and forwards it on to the Committee on Investigation (COI);
- The COI investigates the alleged violations of church law and determines whether or not there are reasonable grounds to refer a bill of charges and specifications to trial under provisions in United Methodist Church discipline.
- a.If the COI does not find reasonable grounds, the complaint can be referred back for administrative action or seek a just resolution
- b. If the COI finds that there are reasonable grounds, the charge(s) move to a church trial. Depending on the outcome of a trial, the respondent has the right to appeal
At every step of the process, a just resolution is always possible.
A person under complaint is rarely suspended from active ministry. No bishop has ever been placed on suspension to our knowledge. Why was it used in this case?
Suspension in The United Methodist Church is neither punitive nor a judgment of guilt. It is used to protect from harm those who filed a complaint, the respondent, and/or the church. Under suspension, one cannot exercise one’s office. However, housing, salary, and other benefits continue.
Why has the suspension been so long?
An initial suspension was put in place by the Western Jurisdiction College of Bishops and the WJ Committee on the Episcopacy (¶413.3a). This had a 60-day limit. However, a new suspension was put in place at the request of the Counsel for the Church (¶2704.1c). After deliberation, the Committee on Investigation recommended further suspension, which the Committee on Episcopacy implemented after their own deliberation. When an appeal was sent to the Judicial Council in May, all processes related to the complaint—including the suspension—were put on hold until the Judicial Council ruling last week.
What happens now?
Now that the Judicial Council has ruled that they have no jurisdiction in this case, the Committee on Investigation will begin its work. Additionally, since Bishop Carcaño is still a bishop in good standing, the Committee on Episcopacy will assign her to an episcopal area during the Jurisdictional Conference. She will remain on suspension for the time being, while the judicial process takes its course.
In all things, we pray that a just resolution is possible. We ask for your continued prayers for Bishop Carcaño and all those involved in the complaint process, as well as prayers for the people of the California-Nevada Annual Conference and for ministries across the church that look to her as a beloved, trusted, prophetic and faithful leader.