A Tale of Two Bishops (Part 6)

Continuing from my previous post:

Last year (April 7, 2013), I found the original petition to the Western Pennsylvania Annual Conference that was replaced with a substitute motion which led to Decision 1238. From my browser history, this is the Google search that found it, in a PDF. As of today, the Google search returns the same document.

E8CE3C11F3A047BCBC36FEB5E359D567_DailyJournal501 is the PDF that I downloaded last year. The original petition is on pages 518-521.

Here I’m only going to consider lines 6-12 from page 520:

WHEREAS, It has been reported by District Superintendents and pastors in Uganda that Bishop Wandabula has not held yearly annual conferences, has not ordained any pastors, did not hold elections for delegates to the General Conferences but instead selected those persons he wanted to attend, and has threatened them with removal from their positions and pastorates, and withholding of their salaries if they disagree with him, or question him on matters of financial accountability,

The above contains the following allegations:

  1. Not holding yearly annual conferences.
  2. Not holding elections for delegates to the General Conferences.
  3. Not allowing General Conference delegates to vote their conscience.

Central Conferences are not free to take actions in violation of the Church Constitution (¶ 543.7). The above allegations, if true, would violate the Constitution. If the allegations are false, it should be simple to disprove them.

[Added 2014-01-22: The Discipline requires that Annual Conference Journals be archived (¶ 606.2). If I were near the General Commission on Archives and History, I would research this myself. Anyone acting professionally could do this, as the Discipline supports (¶¶ 4, 722).]

First, not holding yearly annual conferences.

Decision 825 (April 1998) held, “There is no authority for an Annual Conference to meet less often than annually.” If in fact Bishop Wandabula has held yearly annual conferences, the Annual Conference Journals should confirm this fact. (These same Journals would also indicate all of the pastors ordained by Bishop Wandabula.)

Second, not holding fair and open elections to General Conference.

¶ 13.2: “[General Conference] Delegates shall be elected in a fair and open process by the annual conferences.” This constitutional language has been in effect since January 18, 2006 (Amendment I). The Annual Conference Journals should confirm the fair and open elections over which Bishop Wandabula has in fact presided.

Third, not allowing General Conference delegates to vote their conscience.

The Judicial Council held in Decision 592 (April 1988) that an Annual Conference may not require that delegates to General Conference report their votes. The Judicial Council held in Decision 842 (October 1998) that an Annual Conference cannot require a payment from nominees. Decision 1083 (October 2007) held that an Annual Conference cannot require a survey from prospective delegates. By similar reasoning, it seems that a bishop cannot require loyalty from delegates. (The fair and open elections would dispel much of these concerns.)

According to this story, bishops in the Africa Central Conference are normally re-elected after four years of service. Apparently Bishop Wandabula had an extra two years of service before his re-election to life tenure. According to this story, Bishop Michael J. Coyner, President of the General Council of Finance and Administration (GCFA), has “suggested” that Bishop Wandabula resign the office of bishop and surrender his clergy credentials. (This blog post from last September suggests why the U. S. is oblivious to this turn of events.)

Personally, I am troubled by Bishop Coyner’s “suggestion” that Bishop Wandabula resign. Under the Church Constitution, clergy still have the right to “trial by a committee and of an appeal” (¶ 20). A more disciplined response might have been to indicate that the Africa Central Conference College of Bishops process the outstanding complaints against Bishop Wandabula. The GCFA had previously indicated that it would file a formal complaint.

As also mentioned in the previous post, the penultimate sentence of Decision 1238’s analysis and rationale reads, “The Africa Central Conference College of Bishops and the Council of Bishops have responsibility for the proper handling of the complaint to its conclusion.” Of the Press Releases since April 20 that mention the Council of Bishops, not one mentions Bishop Wandabula.

The public indifference of the Council of Bishops to Decision 1238 is breathtaking.

The Council of Bishops has issued a public statement concerning the accountability of another bishop. I turn to this bishop in the next post.

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One thought on “A Tale of Two Bishops (Part 6)

  1. Pingback: A Tale of Two Bishops (Part 8) | Attending Circuses

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