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United Methodist Bishop Bruce P. Blake (center), Oklahoma Area, flanked by bishops Joe E. Pennel, Jr., Virginia Area, and Sharon Brown Christopher, Illinois Area, presides over a session of the denomination's 2004 General Conference in Pittsburgh where delegates voted to maintain language in the church's Book of Discipline that the practice of homosexuality is

A UMNS photo by Mike DuBose.

United Methodist Bishop Bruce P. Blake (center), Oklahoma Area, flanked by bishops Joe E. Pennel, Jr., Virginia Area, and Sharon Brown Christopher, Illinois Area, presides over a session of the denomination's 2004 General Conference in Pittsburgh where delegates voted to maintain language in the church's Book of Discipline that the practice of homosexuality is "incompatible with Christian teaching."

Four elected to United Methodist Judicial Council

By Neill Caldwell
May 4, 2004 | PITTSBURGH (UMNS)

Two lay and two clergy members of the United Methodist Church are elected to the denomination’s highest court.

The May 4 election of Judicial Council members was delayed one day due to difficulties with electronic voting machines.

The typical term of office for those serving on the nine-member council is eight years. Council members may serve two consecutive eight-year terms.

Those elected and their annual (regional) conferences are Jon R. Gray, Missouri, and Beth Capen, New York, were elected as lay members. The Rev. Susan Henry-Crowe, South Carolina, and the Rev. Dennis L. Blackwell, Greater New Jersey, were elected as clergy members.

Gray is a family court judge for the 16th Judicial Circuit in Kansas City, Mo. He has served as a delegate to five General Conferences and was elected as an alternate member of the Judicial Council in 1996 and 2000. He also served as chair of the Judicial Administration Legislative Committee at the 2004 General Conference.

Capen is an attorney in private practice in Kingston, N.Y. She was a youth delegate to General Conference in 1976 and has been elected six additional times. Capen is the leader of the New York Annual Conference delegation to this year’s assembly.

Henry-Crowe is dean of the chapel and religious life at Emory University, Atlanta, Ga., and teaches polity at Candler School of Theology. She previously served on the Judicial Council from 1992 to 2000.

Blackwell currently serves as senior pastor at Asbury United Methodist Church in Merchantville, N.J. He has twice been elected to General Conference.

General Conference also elected six lay and six clergy reserves to the Judicial Council.  In order of their election, lay alternates and their annual conferences are: Solomon Christian, Memphis; Edwin P. Gausi, Liberia; Daniel Ivey-Soto, New Mexico; David L. Beckley, Mississippi; Daniel F. Evans, South Indiana; and Raymundo Annang, Middle Philippines.  In order of their election, reserve clergy are: Paul Shamwange Kyungu, North-West Katanga; C. Rex Bevins, Nebraska; Rodney E. Wilmoth, Minnesota; Frank E. Trotter Jr., Baltimore-Washington; John E. Harnish, Detroit; and Gloria Brooks, West Ohio.

Rotating off the Judicial Council this year are Sally Curtis AsKew, Sally Brown Geis, the Rev. Larry D. Pickens and Bevins.

Gray and Capen were first elected the morning of May 3 before a protest was raised regarding the voting keypads that General Conference delegates use to make selections on all votes in the full assembly.

Jay Vorhees, a member of the General Conference staff, told the assembly that the machines were not set up in accordance with the rules adopted last week by the delegates.

Staff members worked through the evening of May 3 to repair the software problem. All earlier voting results were voided and voting for the Judicial Council members was restarted on the morning of May 4.

“We must be certain that this body and the church believe that the Judicial Council election be proper and valid,” said Bishop Bruce P. Blake of the Oklahoma Area, who presided over the May 4 morning session. 

*Caldwell is a correspondent for United Methodist News Service.

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After May 10: (615) 742-5470.