What Is a Just Resolution?

If you’ve been following news around the UMC at all, you’ve likely become acquainted with the term “just resolution.” Essentially, this is a way of resolving administrative complaints without a church trial. As stated in ¶363 of the Discipline, “A just resolution is one that focuses on repairing any harm to people and communities, achieving real accountability by making things right in so far as possible and bringing healing to all the parties.” So far, so good.

In ¶ 363c, the process for a just resolution is described in more detail. “The supervisory response may include a process that seeks a just resolution in which the parties are assisted by a trained, impartial third party facilitator(s) or mediator(s), in reaching an agreement satisfactory to all parties” (my italics). Additionally, “A just resolution agreed to by all parties shall be a final disposition of the related complaint.”

So, here’s my question: The UMC is locked in a death-embrace over the matter of “homosexual practice.” How is it, then, that we are going to resolve this matter through the just resolution process? If a just resolution requires an agreement satisfactory to all parties, how will such a process resolve a problem as intractable as this one? One sees, for example, the complaintants in the Ogletree case have rejected the “just resolution” by which the case was supposedly resolved.  This would seem not to meet the criterion of satisfaction to all parties required for a just resolution.

Other than the intervention of the Holy Spirit, I don’t know what the answer is in the UMC, but this isn’t it.It would be well for us to think more seriously about the ministry of order, as Wendy Deichmann has eloquently pointed out in a recent article in Catalyst.

By the way, this is a post about UM polity. I’d appreciate it if comments related to that topic, at least tangentially.

7 thoughts on “What Is a Just Resolution?

  1. I appreciate you bringing the actual language of the Discipline to light here.

    My recollection in the Ogletree case was that once the matter moved to trial, the people who made original charge were no longer considered parties to the matter, and so they were not signatories to the “just resolution.”

    This is, of course, not in keeping with the spirit of the language above, but I assume it is within the letter of the Discipline as no one formally objected to that aspect of the case.

  2. Another protocol which is NOT being followed in some cases is the stipulation that assistance be provided by a “trained, impartial third party facilitator(s) or mediator(s).” Impartiality is non-existent in some conferences. It’s shocking that bishops who support same-sex marriage do not recuse themselves from these cases.

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