Chapter 14: Church Discipline (pages 185 - 200 )
The 59th GC Session voted on six changes to this chapter, and it seems that the new Manual will place the chapter for Church Discipline as Chapter 7.
The following wording has been added to the section: Reasons for Discipline
Sexual abuse of children, youth and vulnerable adults, fornication, promiscuity, incest, homosexual practice, the production, use, or distribution of pornography, and other sexual perversions. Appears on page 62 of the 18th Edition
The following has been added to the same section
The use or manufacture of illicit drugs or the misuse of, or trafficking in, narcotics or other drugs. Appears on page 62 of the 18th Edition
The following has been added to the section: Process of Discipline
Votes of censure must not carry any provision involving removal of membership in case of failure to comply with any condition imposed. Assessment should be made at the expiration of the period of censure to determine whether the disciplined members have changed course. If their conduct is satisfactory, they may then be considered in regular standing without further action and shall be notified that the censure has ended. If their conduct is not satisfactory, the church again should consider appropriate discipline. Any return to church office must be by election. Appears on page 63 of the 18th Edition
The following has been added to the same section.
Fundamental Rights of the Members - Members have a fundamental right to prior notification of the disciplinary meeting and the right to be heard in their own defense, introduce evidence, and produce witnesses. No church should vote to remove a member under circumstances that deprive the member of these rights. Written notice must be given at least two weeks before the meeting and include the reasons for the disciplinary hearing. Appears on page 64 of the 18th Edition
Added to the same section, sub-section, Reinstating those removed from Membership
When dealing with perpetrators of sexual abuse, it should be remembered that restoration to membership does not remove all consequences of such a serious violation. While attendance at church activities may be permissible with properly established guidelines, a person convicted or disciplined for sexual abuse should not be placed in a role which could put them in contact with children, youth, and other vulnerable individuals. Neither shall they be given any position which would encourage vulnerable individuals to trust them implicitly. Appears on page 66, 67 of the 18th Edition
The following has been added to the section: Right of Appeal for Reinstatement
Right of Appeal for Reinstatement - While it is the right of the church to administer discipline, this does not set aside the rights of members to seek fairness. If members believe that they have been treated unfairly by the local church, or not had the right to be heard fairly, and the church is unwilling to reconsider the case or if the officers refuse to consider their applications for reinstatement, the former members have a right to appeal in writing to the church for a hearing. The church should not neglect or refuse to grant such a hearing. If it does, or if the former members still feel unfairly treated by the church after the appeal, they have the right to a final appeal for a hearing to the executive committee of the conference. Appears on page 67 of the 18th Edition
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