Update: The United Methodist Church’s first female Latina bishop in the United States was found not guilty Friday (Sept. 22) on four charges brought against her after a jury of 13 ordained church members swiftly rendered a verdict in a church trial held in a Chicago suburb this past week. (RNS)
A prominent Latina bishop in the United Methodist Church is facing a church trial this week on multiple charges of harassment, fiscal malfeasance and a general charge of disobedience.
Bishop Minerva G. Carcaño, a leader of the California-Nevada Conference or region of the United Methodist Church, was suspended from her church leadership role more than 18 months ago after the complaints were brought against her.
The United Methodist Church has never before put a bishop on trial, nor imposed such a long suspension on a member of its clergy. Typically, clergy may be suspended for up to 60 days, according to the church’s rule book.
The trial of the first Latina bishop in the denomination is also raising questions about whether the church is unfairly singling out Hispanics, a minority within the mostly white church.
“All Hispanic Latinos look for her as a leader of our church,” said the Rev. Lyssette Perez, president of a group of Hispanic United Methodists called Methodists Associated Representing the Cause of Hispanic/Latino Americans or MARCHA. “It’s like attacking one of ours.”
MARCHA representatives objected to the bishop’s suspension, which the group pointed out was unusually long and in fact served as a kind of punishment before any of the allegations against her were heard. Its representatives are monitoring the trial for fairness.
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