A “Good News Magazine” update concerning Bishop Talbert

(Although dated 2014-03-04, this draft was finally published on 2014-03-13.)

I am not in the habit of reading “Good News Magazine” for a variety of reasons. It is interesting to note that UMCom can legally purchase advertising in this publication (screen grab from today):

Screen Capture: 2014-03-04

Screen Capture: 2014-03-04

Anyway, recently “link rot” brought me to their website. One of their “updates” interested me as it concerned an update on any supervisory response concerning Bishop Talbert. I have previously described some of my own concerns regarding this process in light of the statement from the Council of Bishops. I didn’t expect “Good News” to share many of my concerns. Regardless, I’m still surprised by the last two paragraphs of their update:

It is Good News’ understanding that a supervisory process has been initiated with Bishop Talbert, with Bishop Elaine Stanovsky superintending that process on behalf of the Western Jurisdiction College of Bishops. The college has requested that the supervisory process be confidential. It is Good News’ understanding that, in order for a supervisory process to begin, a complaint or complaints must be filed. Therefore, we conclude that complaint(s) covering the two chargeable offenses have been filed by Bishops Wenner and Wallace-Padgett.

Good News believes that, for the good of the church, this process must go forward with maximum transparency. At the very least, the fact that complaint(s) have been filed and any eventual resolution of such complaint(s) should be announced to the church. The public nature of the offenses, announced in advance and well covered by the media, requires a similarly public response from the church (see I Timothy 5:19-20). Such transparency is needed to help church members have confidence that the bishops have kept their promise to uphold the Discipline and hold each other accountable. Good News is following this situation closely and will keep readers informed as to its outcome.

“Good News” is free to believe many things. However, the Discipline is absolutely clear on the nature of the supervisory response under these circumstances (¶ 413.3b):

The supervisory response is pastoral and administrative and shall be directed toward a just resolution. It is not a part of any judicial process. The supervisory response should be carried out in a confidential manner and should be completed within 120 days. …

I just can’t reconcile calls for “maximum transparency” during an alleged supervisory response with the Discipline‘s clear statement that any supervisory response “should be carried out in a confidential manner.” (Presumably the Discipline uses should instead of shall because complaints against bishops would rarely be completely secret.)

The linked post seems to be saying that the initiation of a supervisory response should be announced to the Church, along with the fact that a complaint or complaints have been filed. Such a call would seem to be contrary to the Discipline.

Perhaps I’m being uncharitable; maybe “Good News” is looking forward to a just resolution. If the terms of a just resolution allow for public disclosure, I’m sure that any such just resolution will be celebrated by “Good News.” Perhaps that is what “Good News” is saying in the linked post.

Anyway, I only commented because the “Good News” update seemed unclear on some of the relevant disciplinary provisions. I thus felt that a timely comment was warranted.

As far as I’m concerned, it’s up to the Council of Bishops to officially comment on Bishops Wandabula and Talbert. Until then, commentary from those of us in the “Peanut Gallery” is superfluous.

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  1. Pingback: “Good News” and 24-hour Suspension for Northwest Clergy | Attending Circuses

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