|Members of the 2012-16 Judicial Council are (seated, from left) the Rev. Belton Joyner Jr., the Rev. J. Kabamba Kiboko, N. Oswald Tweh Sr. and the Rev. Kathi Austin Mahle; (standing, from left) Ruben T. Reyes, the Rev. Dennis Blackwell, Beth Capen, the Rev. William B. Lawrence and Angela Brown.|
New Judicial Council preparing for full fall session
Two Africans were the top vote-getters April 30 when General Conference delegates filled four open seats on the United Methodist Judicial Council.
Elected to their first eight-year terms were the Rev. J. Kabamba Kiboko of the Southern Congo Annual Conference and N. Oswald Tweh Sr. of the Liberia Conference. The Rev. Dennis L. Blackwell, Greater New Jersey, and Beth Capen, New York, were re-elected. Both first served from 2004 to 2012.
The 2012-16 Judicial Council, which began its service when General Conference 2012 adjourned, elected the Rev. William B. Lawrence, North Texas Conference, as its president and Angela Brown, California-Nevada, vice-president. The Rev. Belton Joyner Jr., North Carolina, was re-elected secretary. Other members serving through 2016 are the Rev. Katherine Austin Mahle, Minnesota, and Ruben Reyes, Philippines. The council will hold its first session in October. The agenda will include ruling on the constitutionality of several General Conference actions.
Two other members of the 2008-12 council completed their eight-year terms. The Rev. Susan Henry-Crowe, South Carolina, who served as the 2008-12 president, was elected the second clergy alternate for 2012-16. Jon R. Gray, Missouri, asked not to be renominated.
Pioneer and leader
The first woman ordained in the Southern Congo Conference, Kiboko recently was elected president of the United Methodist African Clergywomen. With advanced degrees from Perkins and Iliff schools of theology, she currently serves as an associate pastor at Holy Covenant United Methodist Church in Katy, Texas, and has been a General Conference translator since 1996.
Tweh holds law degrees from the University of Liberia and Harvard University. He has served as an assistant professor in the university's law school and was president of the Liberian National Bar Association from 2006 to 2008.
Blackwell has been pastor of Asbury United Methodist Church in Woodlynne, N.J., for 25 years. Capen, who served numerous times as a New York Conference delegate to General Conference, is a lawyer in private practice. She also has served on general church agencies and is active at the conference, district and local church levels.
Blackwell and Capen were first elected to the council in 2004. Judicial Council members are elected for eight-year terms and may serve a second consecutive term. They must then leave the council for at least four years before being eligible for election again.
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The Judicial Council reviews all decisions on points of law made by bishops during annual conference sessions. Other cases come from lower church courts or from official bodies of the church, such as General Conference or the Council of Bishops, requesting a declaratory decision as to the legality of a particular action.
Adapted from United Methodist News Service stories by Linda Bloom, multimedia reporter based in New York, and Neill Caldwell, editor of the Virginia Advocate and a member of the General Conference news team.