Complaints and Discipline
The need of the Methodist Church for a complaints and discipline process stems from the imperfect nature of human beings. The Church is a fallible community and its members on occasion behave in ways which are damaging to themselves and others and which undermine the credibility of the Church's witness. A complaints and discipline process is one of the means by which the Church recognizes that all human beings are made in the image of God and are entitled to be treated as such, and by which it maintains its witness to the new life in which we are called through Christ.
Through the complaints and discipline process members of the Methodist Church are accountable to the Church in matters of faith and behaviour. The Church seeks to enable healing and reconciliation to take place through that accountability whenever possible. The Church also responds to the call through Christ for justice, openness and honesty, and to the need for each of us to accept responsibility for our own acts.
The complaints and discipline process therefore seeks to embody the following principles:
- the initiation of complaints should not be limited to members of the Church;
- there should be no difference in principle between ordained and lay people in the way in which complaints against them are dealt with;
- the possibility of reconciliation should be explored carefully in every case in which that is appropriate;
- help and support should be offered both to the person making the complaint and to the person complained against at every stage during the process;
- the process should be fair;
- the person or body making the decision at each stage should be competent to do so;
- there should be a means of correcting any errors which may be made;
- there should be a means on ensuring compliance with any decision;
- there should be appropriate requirements relating to confidentiality and record-keeping.
As the Body of Christ the Church seeks to embody justice, and to challenge injustice. Complaints and discipline procedures are one means of searching for truth. Justice involves loving, honouring and respecting others, and ensuring that processes and procedures are accessible, consistent, fair and transparent. Justice is also dynamic, implying an active concern for those who are vulnerable, marginalised, or oppressed.
Every Methodist circuit has a local complaints officer appointed. In most cases this would be the superintendent minister of the circuit. Contact information can be accessed via the church webmap or by making contact with the Methodist Church in a locality.
Details of the procedures are contained in The Constitutional Practice and Discipline of the Methodist Church (CPD) Volume 2 which can be obtained from Methodist Publishing at www.methodistpublishing.org.uk (quote reference PB882 -CT-10) at a price of £25, or downloaded free of charge via the link below.
Part 11 Complaints and Discipline may be obtained as a separate document from the Conference Office.
The following information is available for free download:
- Leaflet giving background information to the complaints and discipline procedures
- Guidance for Local Complaints Officers
- CPD Volumes 1 and 2
- Flow Chart
Resources for Local Complaints Officers:
The Conference Office
Methodist Church House
25 Marylebone Road
London NW1 5JR