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Statement Regarding the Decision of the Northeastern Jurisdiction Committee on Appeals

As the Council of Bishops gathers today in Washington, DC for our spring meeting, we will continue to focus on "Making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world." Most of our meeting will center upon sharpening this focus, including sharing reports from each bishop's Area about our progress in making disciples.

However, the announcement of the results of the hearing by the Northeastern Jurisdictional Committee on Appeals in the Beth Stroud case has been received, and we as the Executive Committee of the Council of Bishops want to encourage all United Methodists to be patient with the important legal processes involved.

The Northeastern Jurisdiction Committee on Appeals has reversed the Stroud trial decision based upon some technicalities. It also found that "the evidence in support of the charge was overwhelming and would be sustained in the absence of a legal error." The committee concluded that "legal error vitiates the verdict on two independent grounds." This means that the reasons for the guilty verdict were not questioned, but the case was reversed on two questions of legal process. The Eastern Pennsylvania Conference has thirty days to appeal this decision.

The decision of the Northeastern Jurisdiction Committee on Appeals does not in any way reverse the standards in our Book of Discipline. In fact, the appeal process is an important part of our Book of Discipline.

We as the Executive Committee of the Council, affirm our commitment to uphold all of the provisions of our Book of Discipline, while inviting everyone to join us in patience and prayer for a just and fair outcome.

---From the Executive Committee of the Council of Bishops of The United Methodist Church, May 1, 2005