On March 14 the Times published a feature, “Improper Voting Discovered at Methodist Vote on Gay Clergy.” Bishop Kenneth H. Carter, President of the Council of Bishops responds.
In response to the New York Times article alleging that improper voting occurred at recent Special Session of General Conference, the Council of Bishops has issued the following statement by its President, Kenneth H. Carter, Jr.:
“The Council of Bishops has always worked to help the delegates to do their best work, as the legislative body of the church. This means being a voice for fairness. The Council does not plan, host or oversee the General Conference. We are not casting blame on a region of the world or a part of the body of Christ. In honoring the sacrificial gifts of the delegates to the Special Session, the preparatory work of the Commission on a Way Forward, and the importance of the Special Session’s stated purpose, we do have an absolute and unwavering desire for transparency and the truth in discovering what has taken place in the special session of the General Conference.”
The Executive Committee of the Commission on General Council adds, “The Executive Committee is looking into a question that ineligible persons may have received credentials to vote during the Special Session of the General Conference. The Secretary of the General Conference, the Rev. Gary W. Graves, recently became aware of the concerns after receiving an inquiry about the registration and credentialing process.
Following consultation with the chair of the Commission on the General Conference, an in-depth review was initiated to prepare the delegate attendance records as required by the rules of the General Conference. The secretary, along with the business manager, General Conference staff and an independent auditing firm, cross-checked credential cards, name badge bar code scans, attendance forms, reserve delegate seating forms and other resources. Upon completion of the review, it appears possible that a very limited number of ineligible persons who were correctly denied credentials by General Conference staff were later able to procure them.
“We take the integrity of the legislative process very seriously, and the breakdown in the process is troubling,” said Graves. “Had the concerns been received while the General Conference was in session, the matter would have been taken to the Committee on Credentials who would have brought a recommendation to the plenary session for resolution of the question. However, since the General Conference is not in session, the matter is being referred to the Commission on the General Conference.”
Duncan McMillan, chair of the Commission on General Conference, said the executive committee of the Commission is considering next steps and recommendations to the full Commission. “We are committed to working to strengthen the credentialing process,” said McMillan.
The parliamentarian who served at the Special Session is being consulted regarding any potential impact this situation may have on the legislative action which resulted in the substitution of the minority report for the legislative committee’s report in the processing of petition 90066 since the vote to substitute was a two-vote difference of 402-400. The Council of Bishops has requested a declaratory decision from the Judicial Council regarding constitutionality of this petition.