July 24, 2024
Dear United Methodist Siblings in Christ,
As previously announced, a jurisdictional trial is scheduled to occur in August (21-25) to adjudicate complaints received regarding the respondent Bishop Minerva Carcaño. Recognizing the growing interest and speculation about this matter, we wanted to briefly address the competing values of confidentiality and transparency and share a related request that we have submitted to the presiding officer, Bishop Alfred Gwinn.
Confidentiality is intended during a complaint process (¶ 413) in The United Methodist Church to protect both complainant(s) and the respondent. It makes space for just resolutions when possible and, by requiring confidentiality, aspires to safeguard the livelihood and reputations of those accused; it is not meant to conceal or hide but to protect. No process is perfect, especially when people participate in it. We continue to ask that you pray for the complainants, for Bishop Carcaño, and for all who support them through this, including the mediators and the trial court.
With the trial a month away, we continue to think about transparency and how the Church will learn about the charges submitted by the Western Jurisdiction’s Committee on Investigation, Bishop Carcaño’s response to them, and the consideration of these things by a jury. Having no interest in concealing facts about the complaints or the related charges beyond preserving hope for a just resolution, we have submitted the following requests to Bishop Gwinn.
- We have requested that the trial be live-streamed, pending the consent of the complainants and the respondent.
- We have also requested public disclosure of the charges at a time deemed appropriate by Bishop Gwinn and also agreed to by the complainants and the respondent.
We have submitted these requests understanding the unprecedented nature of this situation. To our knowledge, the Church has never held a trial for a bishop, and where a trial typically allows for members, colleagues, and other interested parties to be present with reasonable travel, such is not the case for a bishop. When we elect bishops in The United Methodist Church, they are not elected as the bishop of a conference or even a jurisdiction but of the whole church. Most bishops, like Bishop Carcaño, serve in various roles on numerous jurisdictional and general church committees, boards and agencies, in addition to their assignments to episcopal areas.
Please note that we are only announcing that we have made these requests and hope they will be agreed to for the good of the Church. That said, decisions about these matters are no longer in our hands, and we trust them to Bishop Gwinn. As the presiding officer, decisions about the trial are properly before him, and we have no authority regarding how and when things move forward, except for an agreement on a just resolution if that were to occur.
To close, we offer a pastoral word and a prayer. Before we even knew it, we were the recipients of God’s good grace. As United Methodists, we believe that when we accept that grace and allow it to permeate all that we do, we can draw ever closer to the image of God. All of us are so in need of grace, to offer it and to receive it, and we ask of this from you for all involved as we move ever closer to this trial. May we find ways to treat each other as Christ would, struggling always to see that image of God present in everyone, and moving on to grace upon grace in our words, actions, and hopes. May God bring us justice, resolution, healing, and hope.
Grace y paz,
Bishop Dottie Escobedo-Frank
President, Western Jurisdiction College of Bishops
Resident Bishop of the Los Angeles Area