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United Methodist Layman Files Church Judicial Charges Against Northern Illinois Bishop, Calls For Removal


From: John Juergensmeyer <bishopcharge@yahoo.com>
To: John Warrene <jwarrene@surfsouth.com>
Date: Friday, July 07, 2000 3:33 PM
Subject: Sprague Complaint

This was filed by fax around noon today. I have added an "endorsement" if anyone wants to "sign aboard"

Thanks,

John E. Juergensmeyer


[To add your endorsement, click to email.
Please include name, address and church]


Press Release:

STATEMENT

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

         John E. Juergensmeyer
         Office: (847) 695-9800
         Fax:    (847) 695-9818
         e-mail: bishopcharge@yahoo.com

UNITED METHODIST LAYMAN FILES CHURCH JUDICIAL CHARGES AGAINST NORTHERN ILLINOIS BISHOP, CALLS FOR REMOVAL

John E. Juergensmeyer, an Elgin Methodist Church member, today filed a series of formal complaints with the United Methodist College of Bishops, charging Northern Illinois Conference Bishop C. Joseph Sprague with violation of the United Methodist Discipline (the church law), and calling for Sprague's removal.

Four complaints were filed:

First, disobedience to the order and discipline of the United Methodist Church. This is based on the facts of Bishop Sprague's interfering with and disrupting the proceedings of the recent General Conference in Cleveland, to the extent that the presiding Bishop was compelled on two separate occasions to order Bishop Sprague arrested by the civil authorities so the business of the conference could proceed.

Second, dissemination of doctrines contrary to the established standards of doctrine of the church. This is based on the facts of Bishop Sprague's distributing the theological doctrines of Marcus Borg to each of the pastors in the Conference during 1999-2000, requiring discussion of them at church district meetings, and advocating the Borg doctrines as a "common Christology." The Marcus Borg philosophy, as is readily apparent from his books, denies the divinity of Jesus Christ, denies the resurrection, heaven, the miracles of Christ, and numerous other doctrines central to the United Methodist Church Articles of Religion, Constitution and Discipline.

Third, disobedience to the order and discipline of the Methodist Church. This is based on the facts of Bishop Sprague using church funds and resources of his office for the promotion of homosexuality, contrary to the Discipline.

Fourth, failure to perform the work of the ministry. This is based on the facts of numerous administrative failings and inadequacies of the Northern Illinois Conference office and conduct of the Northern Illinois Annual Conferences for 1999-2000.

"We United Methodist are generally extremely tolerant of differing views within the church," Juergensmeyer commented, "but when a Bishop has to be arrested twice for interfering with the conduct of the church's highest legislative body, and taken off to jail so church business can continue, that's going too far." Juergensmeyer was referring to the widely publicized events of the May, 2000 General Conference of the United Methodist Church in Cleveland. Bishop Sprague was one of a group of demonstrators who, when their attempts to change the church's rules on ordination of homosexual pastors and sanctioning of homosexual marriages, lost by more than 2 to 1 votes, occupied the platform of the convention to prevent further business until they were ordered arrested by the presiding bishop.

"This is the basis of the first complaint," said Juergensmeyer, "but the second is probably more important, since it charges Bishop Sprague with disseminating heretical doctrines." Juergensmeyer was referring to his charge that Bishop Sprague distributed copies of a book by Marcus Borg to all of the several hundred pastors in the Northern Illinois Conference, required study sessions on the book, and gave his endorsement to its doctrines. The Borg philosophy denies the divinity of Jesus Christ, denies the resurrection, denies miracles, heaven, and many other long-established doctrines of the United Methodist Church.

"The Borg-Sprague philosophy would deny virtually every element of the Apostles Creed, the historic test of Christian belief since shortly after Christ's death," said Juergensmeyer. "Methodists are a tolerant faith; we follows John Wesley's dictum that ‘as to all opinions which do not strike at the root of Christianity, we think and let think.' However, the Borg-Sprague philosophy strikes at the root of Christianity," Juergensmeyer added.

"Many pastors and lay persons have expressed their concern to me about the antics of our Bishop, but since the Bishop controls the pastors' careers by his appointments, many are afraid to oppose him. However, the general consensus is that by his arrests in Cleveland and dissemination of the Borg books, he has finally crossed the line and should be removed," said Juergensmeyer.

Charge #1:

John E. Juergensmeyer
401 Hazel Drive
Elgin, IL 60123
(847) 695-9800
(847) 742-7722
Fax: (847) 695-9818

June 30, 2000

VIA AIRBORNE EXPRESS

Bishop John Hopkins President, College of Bishops, North Central Jurisdiction United Methodist Church 122 W. Franklin Avenue, Room 200 Minneapolis, MN 55404

Re: First Complaint and Charge against Bishop C. Joseph Sprague, Northern Illinois Conference, pursuant to United Methodist Discipline 413 and charge pursuant to 2624.1(e).

Dear Bishop Hopkins:

I formally bring the following first complaint and charge against Bishop C. Joseph Sprague of the Northern Illinois Conference:

1.1. This complaint and charge is based on the following Jurisdiction:

(1) As complainant, I am a life-long United Methodist, a lay speaker, and currently lay leader of the Wesley United Methodist Church of Elgin, Illinois. I have held many other posts at the local, district and conference level, but am writing this solely in my personal capacity as a United Methodist lay person, pursuant to 413, The 1996 Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church (hereinafter the Discipline). (All citations herein refer to the Discipline as amended by the 2000 General Conference of the United Methodist Church to the extent such amendment may be in effect.)

(2) This complaint and charge is stated and filed against Bishop C. Joseph Sprague, an active Bishop in the United Methodist Church. This complaint is filed pursuant to the jurisdiction and authority granted in the Discipline. 413, 2624 and 2625, among others, permit and provide for the filing of complaints and charges against a Bishop of the United Methodist Church, and set forth conduct or offenses that can be basis for complaints or charges. 2625.1 states that a "charge shall not allege more than one of the offenses set forth in 2624," and accordingly this is one of four separate complaints.

1.2. The following is the Factual Basis for this First Complaint or Charge:

(1) Bishop Sprague attended the 2000 General Conference of the United Methodist Church as an active Bishop and member of the Council of Bishops of the denomination. During the ordinary plenary proceedings of the Conference, being presided over by Bishop Dan E. Solomon, Bishop Sprague intentionally disrupted the order of the Conference and disobeyed the directions of the chair of the Conference. His conduct was so obstructive and disruptive that he was arrested on two occasions by the local law enforcement authorities in Cleveland, Ohio, on or about May 10th and 11th, 2000.

(2) The General conference is the highest legislative body of the United Methodist Church. (Discipline 501.) It has the exclusive right and authority to speak officially for the denomination. (Discipline 509.) By attempting deliberately to obstruct the conduct of the General Conference, Bishop Sprague was intentionally giving his personal agenda priority over the church which he has been called to serve as one of its highest officers.

(3) The records of Bishop Sprague's arrests and charges are a matter of public record and are available to the Committee on Investigation. In addition, the proceedings of the Conference at the time of Bishop Sprague's disobedience of ecclesiastical law were being transcribed and videotaped by United Methodist and other news media and public relations organizations. I request that the committee obtain and review these transcripts and videotapes. If there is any problem in obtaining these I will be happy to assist the committee in this investigation.

(4) There is no question that Bishop Sprague violated the order of the General Conference and requests of the presiding officer. There is no question that Bishop Sprague's conduct was so outrageous that he was arrested and taken from the Conference to jail. There is no question that Bishop Sprague knew what he was doing and intended to cause the interference with the business proceedings of the Conference.

(5) There is also no question that at the time of his outrageous conduct Sprague was a consecrated Bishop of the United Methodist Church. Therefore, he was under special vows taken at the time of his consecration. He had been set apart in his consecration to be responsible for:

"...the general oversight and promotion of the temporal and spiritual interests of the entire church and for carrying into effect the rules, regulations, and responsibilities prescribed and enjoined by the General Conference...." (Discipline 45, Article III, The Constitution of the United Methodist Church.)

(6) Further, Bishop Sprague has been called, as a servant to Jesus Christ, to servant leadership and:

"...to guard the faith, order, liturgy, doctrine and discipline of the Church; to seek and be a sign of the unity of the faith." (Discipline 404)

1.3. Accordingly, my Specific Charge or Complaint is that Bishop C. Joseph Sprague is charged with the following offense:

"(e) disobedience to the Order and Discipline of the United Methodist Church." (Discipline 2624.1(e).)

1.4. In support of this charge or complaint, I offer the following Argument:

(1) Bishop C. Joseph Sprague, in intentionally disrupting a plenary session of General Conference, expressly ignoring and refusing to comply with the request of the presiding Bishop, and causing such a disturbance that the presiding Bishop was compelled on two separate occasions to order Bishop Sprague arrested by the civil authorities so that the business of the Conference could proceed, violated his responsibility "to guard the faith, order, liturgy, doctrine and discipline of the Church...." (Discipline 404.1)

(2) A Bishop of the United Methodist Church is obligated to conduct him or herself in a manner that is faithful to the Holy Scriptures, the Articles of Religion, Constitution, and Discipline of the United Methodist Church.

(3) Bishop Sprague's deliberate conduct violated his obligation as an episcopal leader of our denomination. When he was consecrated a Bishop and given the mantel of leadership and obedient spiritual character he was set apart for holy leadership and example, to uphold the faith and the Discipline of our United Methodist Church.

(4) Bishop Sprague violated his holy obligation and task, as required in 401 of the Discipline:

"Those who superintend carry primary responsibility for ordering the life of the Church. It is their task to enable the gathered Church to worship and to evangelize faithfully."

(5) Bishop Sprague also violated his duty as set forth in the Discipline 414.1:

"To lead and oversee the spiritual and temporal affairs of the United Methodist Church, which confesses Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, and particularly to lead the Church in its mission of witness and service in the world."

(6) The Bishop has confused the ordinary citizen's right to engage in civil disobedience with a rationale for violating the Discipline and his own Episcopal vows.

(7) Bishop Sprague evidently felt that he had a right to engage in disruptive behavior and disobedience. To be sure, the United Methodist Church has for many years recognized the right of persons to engage in civil disobedience against civil laws they feel are unjust -- but only as long as they are willing to accept the consequences. Here, one who has been chosen as our spiritual leader chooses intentionally to violate his trust. If he felt compelled to do so as an act of conscience, he should first have resigned his office. In any case, he should accept the consequences of his disobedience, which should be forfeiture of his office.

1.5. In Conclusion, a bishop in the United Methodist Church has no right to engage in "ecclesiastical disobedience" under the guise or claim of civil rights.

(1) The Discipline 413.1 states:

"Episcopal leadership in The United Methodist Church shares with all other ordained persons in the sacred trust of their ordination. The ministry of bishops as set forth in The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church also flows from the gospel as taught by Jesus the Christ and proclaimed by his apostles ( 403). Whenever a bishop violates this trust or is unable to fulfill appropriate responsibilities, continuation in the episcopal office shall be subject to review."

(2) Evidently this Bishop would like to have the right or privilege to violate the Discipline and his vows without accepting any consequences. The Church has always maintained that private citizens engaging in civil disobedience have to be willing to accept the consequences, as Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. so eloquently phrased this is his Letters From the Birmingham Jail. It should be no different with this Bishop. If Sprague is to "stand on principle" to disrupt the Church which he has taken a holy oath to preserve and defend, the consequences should be his removal from office for this egregious conduct.

(3) This complainant respectfully requests that Bishop Sprague be tried for the complaint and charge stated, asked to resign, and if he refuses that he be removed or suspended.

Respectfully Submitted,

John E. Juergensmeyer

Charge #2:

John E. Juergensmeyer
401 Hazel Drive
Elgin, IL 60123
(847) 695-9800
(847) 742-7722
Fax: (847) 695-9818

June 30, 2000

VIA AIRBORNE EXPRESS

Bishop John Hopkins
President, College of Bishops, North Central
Jurisdiction
United Methodist Church
122 W. Franklin Avenue, Room 200
Minneapolis, MN 55404

Re: Second Complaint and Charge against Bishop C. Joseph Sprague, Northern Illinois Conference, pursuant to United Methodist Discipline 413 and charge pursuant to 2624.1(f).

Dear Bishop Hopkins:

I formally bring the following second complaint and charge against Bishop C. Joseph Sprague of the Northern Illinois Conference:

2.1 This complaint and charge is based on the following Jurisdiction:

(1) As complainant, I am a life-long United Methodist, a lay speaker, and currently lay leader of the Wesley United Methodist Church of Elgin, Illinois. I have held many other posts at the local, district and conference level, but am writing this solely in my personal capacity as a United Methodist lay person, pursuant to 413, The 1996 Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church (hereinafter the Discipline). (All citations herein refer to the Discipline as amended by the 2000 General Conference of the United Methodist Church to the extent such amendment may be in effect.)

(2) This complaint and charge is stated and filed against Bishop C. Joseph Sprague, an active Bishop in the United Methodist Church. This complaint is filed pursuant to the jurisdiction and authority granted in the Discipline. 413, 2624 and 2625, among others, permit and provide for the filing of complaints and charges against a Bishop of the United Methodist Church, and set forth conduct or offenses that can be basis for complaints or charges. 2625(1) states that a "charge shall not allege more than one of the offenses set forth in 2624," and accordingly this is one of four separate complaints.

2.2 The following is the Factual Basis for this Second Complaint or Charge:

(1) During 1999, Sprague has furnished to every United Methodist pastor in the Northern Illinois Conference a copy of Marcus Borg's theology, using Church funds, and advocating this as a "common Christology."

(2) The Marcus Borg book advocates a theology that denies the substance of the Apostles' Creed, and is not consistent with the gospel as taught by Jesus Christ and proclaimed by the Apostles, in violation of the Discipline 401-404. It advocates doctrines that, in John Wesley's terms, "strike at the root of Christianity. ..." (Discipline 61), and are in violation of the principles of the Constitution of the United Methodist Church, 16-20, and the Discipline 62.

(3) In particular, as one reads the Discipline 62, "Our Doctrinal Standards and General Rules," the Borg-Sprague philosophy is contrary to virtually every one of "The Articles of Religion of the Methodist Church" which has been the basis of Methodism since John Wesley first wrote it in 1784. The Borg-Sprague "Christology" is likewise contrary to virtually every article of "The Confession of Faith of the Evangelical United Brethren Church," which comes to us from Phillip William Otterbein, Martin Boehm, and Jacob Albright, Wesley's contemporaries. (Discipline 62.)

(4) The Borg-Sprague philosophy is, simply, a wholesale denial of our historic United Methodist faith and doctrine. Only by the most contrived doubletalk, redefinition of terms, sophistry, evasion, and mental reservation could they be even remotely reconciled.

(5) The Borg "Christology," as set forth in Borg's The God We Never Knew, Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time, and other books, is clearly in opposition to the Discipline 62 and "the root of Christianity," to use John Wesley's very appropriate phase. As the attached analysis (pages 8a, 8b, and 8c) accurately reflects, Borg's theology denies virtually every tenant of the Apostle's Creed (except Borg would concede that Jesus was crucified, dead, and buried). Borg's "theology," which Bishop Sprague advocates as a "common Christology" for Northern Illinois Conference pastors, denies any divine element in Christianity. It is less receptive to the divine nature of Christ than historic Unitarianism, than the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints – or for that matter, than Islam, which admits Jesus Christ was a prophet of God. It denies the resurrection of Christ and a life hereafter. Like Alterizer's "Death of God" movement of the 1970's, the Borg philosophy claims God is a creature of human invention. Borg and Sprague advocate a human-centered secular "Christianity," or a cultural "Christian" moral philosophy, not a theology. This certainly strikes at Wesley's "root of Christianity."

(6) Bishop Sprague did not distribute the Borg theology to rebut it or for teaching how to deal with heretical doctrines. To the contrary, not only did he not oppose it, but in personal statements on many occasions, such as the widely reported statement to the Batavia United Methodist Church, Sprague has stated that he agrees with Borg. In 1999-2000 Sprague required all Northern Illinois Conference pastors to attend District discussion sessions of the Borg theology. By his comments advocating a "common Christology," and through the presentations at the District meetings, Sprague has encouraged to the point of coercion the pastors whose careers he controlled to agree with these viewpoints, contrary to our historic United Methodist faith.

(7) Numerous clergy and lay persons who were at the Batavia UMC and NIC District meetings on the Borg Christology will be available to testify, and request the opportunity to present their statements. Sprague has made other public oral and written statements, too numerous to list, denying the divinity of Christ and describing basic Christian Biblical and Discipline doctrines as "myths" or "allegories." Further exhibits and witnesses will be made available to the committee to supports these charges.

(8) At the time of this conduct, Bishop Sprague was a consecrated Bishop of the United Methodist Church. He was under special vows taken at the time of his consecration. He had been set apart in his consecration to be responsible for:

"...the general oversight and promotion of the temporal and spiritual interests of the entire church and for carrying into effect the rules, regulations, and responsibilities prescribed and enjoined by the General Conference...." (Discipline 45, Article III, The Constitution of the United Methodist Church).

(9) The Discipline 404.1 is clear as to the weighty doctrinal responsibility of a Bishop:

"As followers of Jesus Christ called to servant leadership, bishops are authorized to guard the faith, order liturgy, doctrine, and discipline of the Church; to seek and be a sign of the unity of the faith...."

(10) In addition, a Bishop is charged with the specific responsibility in the Discipline 414:

"(3) To guard, transmit, teach, and proclaim, corporately and individually, the apostolic faith as it is expressed in Scripture and tradition, and, as they are led and endowed by the Spirit, to interpret that faith evangelically and prophetically...."

"(5) To teach and uphold the theological traditions of The United Methodist Church."

2.3 Accordingly, my Specific Charge or Complaint is that Bishop C. Joseph Sprague is charged with the following offense:

"(f) dissemination of doctrines contrary to the established standards of doctrine of the Church." (Discipline 2624.1(f).)

2.4 In support of this charge or complaint, I offer the following Argument:

(1) Bishop C. Joseph Sprague, in intentionally distributing and advocating the "common Christology" of Marcus Borg, violated his responsibility "to guard the faith, order, liturgy, doctrine and discipline of the Church...." (Discipline 404.1)

(2) Bishop Sprague, in these acts, has brought disunity and division in essentials of the faith, and has advocated opinions that "strike at the root of Christianity," in violation of the United Methodist doctrinal standards. (Discipline 60-63.)

(3) A Bishop of the United Methodist Church is obligated to conduct him or herself in a manner that is faithful to the Holy Scriptures, the Articles of Religion, Constitution and Discipline of the United Methodist Church.

(4) Bishop Sprague's advocacy of the Borg philosophy and his resulting conduct promulgating it violated his obligation as an episcopal leader of our denomination. When he was consecrated a Bishop and given the mantel of leadership and obedient spiritual character he was set apart to protect the faith and doctrine of the United Methodist Church, not to destroy it.

(5) Sprague and Borg's beliefs and practices may be consistent with modern Universalist-Unitarian religious organizations or other philosophical groups, but they are in direct violation of the United Methodist Discipline and historic Christian theology. If the United Methodist Church is to maintain any theological or spiritual integrity, if the Church is to remain true to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the principles of Wesley, Otterbein, Boehm, Albright and other church leaders, and if the direct commandments of the Discipline are to have any real meaning, C. Joseph Sprague must no longer be permitted to serve as Bishop of the United Methodist Church.

2.5 In Conclusion, this complainant respectfully requests that Bishop Sprague be tried for the complaint and charge stated, asked to resign, and if he refuses, that he be removed or suspended.

Respectfully Submitted,



John E. Juergensmeyer

Charge #3:

John E. Juergensmeyer
401 Hazel Drive
Elgin, IL 60123
(847) 695-9800
(847) 742-7722
Fax: (847) 695-9818

June 30, 2000

VIA AIRBORNE EXPRESS

Bishop John Hopkins President, College of Bishops, North Central Jurisdiction United Methodist Church 122 W. Franklin Avenue, Room 200 Minneapolis, MN 55404

Re: Third Complaint and Charge against Bishop C. Joseph Sprague, Northern Illinois Conference, pursuant to United Methodist Discipline 413 and charge pursuant to 2624.1(e).

Dear Bishop Hopkins:

I formally bring the following third complaint and charge against Bishop C. Joseph Sprague of the Northern Illinois Conference:

3.1 This complaint and charge is based on the following Jurisdiction:

(1) As complainant, I am a life-long United Methodist, a lay speaker, and currently lay leader of the Wesley United Methodist Church of Elgin, Illinois. I have held many other posts at the local, district and conference level, but am writing this solely in my personal capacity as a United Methodist lay person, pursuant to 413, The 1996 Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church (hereinafter the Discipline). (All citations herein refer to the Discipline as amended by the 2000 General Conference of the United Methodist Church to the extent such amendment may be in effect.)

(2) This complaint/charge is stated and filed against Bishop C. Joseph Sprague, an active Bishop in the United Methodist Church. This complaint is filed pursuant to the jurisdiction and authority granted in the Discipline. 413, 2624 and 2625, among others, permit and provide for the filing of complaints and charges against a Bishop of the United Methodist Church, and set forth conduct or offenses that can be basis for complaints or charges. 2625(1) states that a "charge shall not allege more than one of the offenses set forth in 2624," and accordingly this is one of four separate complaints.

3.2 The following is the Factual Basis for this Third Complaint or Charge:

(1) In violation of the Discipline, at numerous times during 1999 and 2000 Sprague has used, or approved the use of, or not opposed the use of, Church funds for the appointment of the recently removed Pastor Gregory Dell, in the following manner: as a church employee to Dell's former parish on a part-time basis, and for the use of funds and facilities at United Methodist Church property within the Conference, for Dell to serve on a part-time basis for "In All Things Charity," an organization to promote homosexuality within the United Methodist Church and at the Cleveland General Conference. (The salary and benefits of the combined appointments were approximately equal to Dell's prior salary and benefits.) This is in direct violation of the United Methodist Discipline 806.12, prohibition against using Church funds for the promotion of homosexuality.

(2) The above is also an attempt to do indirectly what a prior church trial and Judicial Council decision directly forbid: using church funds for Dell to serve in a pastoral capacity, after he has been removed as pastor.

(3) During 1999 and 2000, Sprague has used the resources of the Bishop's office as a public relations and news media channel for promotion of homosexuality, in violation of the United Methodist Discipline 64C, 64G, and 806.12, and holy scriptures. He has used church funds to pay for attorneys to defend homosexuality in litigation against Methodist religious institutions, and has testified in favor of homosexuality at these legal proceedings, contrary to the Discipline. Transcripts of these proceedings are available for review by the committee.

(4) At the time of this conduct, Bishop Sprague was a consecrated Bishop of the United Methodist Church. Therefore, he was under special vows taken at the time of his consecration. He had been set apart in his consecration to be responsible for:

"...the general oversight and promotion of the temporal and spiritual interests of the entire church and for carrying into effect the rules, regulations, and responsibilities prescribed and enjoined by the General Conference...." (Discipline 45, Article III, The Constitution of the United Methodist Church).

(5) Further, Bishop Sprague has been called, as a servant of Jesus Christ, to servant leadership and:

"...to guard the faith, order, liturgy, doctrine and discipline of the Church; to seek and be a sign of the unity of the faith." (Discipline 404.)

3.3 Accordingly, my Specific Charge or Complaint is that Bishop C. Joseph Sprague is charged with the following offense:

"(e) disobedience to the Order and Discipline of the United Methodist Church." (Discipline 2624.1(e).)

3.4 In support of this charge or complaint, I offer the following Argument:

(1) Bishop C. Joseph Sprague, in the use, approval of, or not opposing the use of church funds as set forth above; has violated the Discipline 806.12, prohibition against using church funds for the promotion of homosexuality, and by using the resources of his office for the promotion of homosexuality has violated his responsibility " to guard the faith, order, liturgy, doctrine and discipline of the Church...." (Discipline 404.)

(2) Bishop Sprague has accordingly violated his obligations as required in 404 of the Discipline.

(3) A Bishop of the United Methodist Church is obligated to conduct him or herself in a manner that is faithful to the Holy Scriptures, the Articles of Religion, Constitution and Discipline of the United Methodist Church.

(4) Bishop Sprague's conduct violated his obligation as an episcopal leader of our denomination. When he was consecrated a Bishop, and given the mantel of leadership and obedient spiritual character, he was set apart as set forth in the Discipline 414 and 415.

3.5 In Conclusion, a bishop in the United Methodist Church has no right to engage in violation of express prohibition of the Discipline 806.12. This complainant respectfully requests that Bishop Sprague be tried for the complaint and charge stated, be asked to resign, and if he does not, be removed or suspended.

Respectfully Submitted,



John E. Juergensmeyer

Charge #4

        John E. Juergensmeyer
        401 Hazel Drive
        Elgin, IL 60123
        (847) 695-9800
        (847) 742-7722
        Fax: (847) 695-9818

June 30, 2000

VIA AIRBORNE EXPRESS

Bishop John Hopkins
President, College of Bishops (North Central
Jurisdiction)
United Methodist Church
122 W. Franklin Avenue, Room 200
Minneapolis, MN 55404

Re: Fourth Complaint and Charge against Bishop C. Joseph Sprague, Northern Illinois Conference, pursuant to United Methodist Discipline 413 and charge pursuant to 2624.1(d).

Dear Bishop Hopkins:

I formally bring the following fourth complaint and charge against Bishop C. Joseph Sprague of the Northern Illinois Conference:

4.1 This complaint and charge is based on the following Jurisdiction:

(1) As complainant, I am a life-long United Methodist, a lay speaker, and currently lay leader of the Wesley United Methodist Church of Elgin, Illinois. I have held many other posts at the local, district and conference level, but am writing this solely in my personal capacity as a United Methodist lay person, pursuant to 413, The 1996 Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church (hereinafter the Discipline). (All citations herein refer to the Discipline as amended by the 2000 General Conference of the United Methodist Church to the extent such amendment may be in effect.)

(2) This complaint and charge is stated and filed against Bishop C. Joseph Sprague, an active Bishop in the United Methodist Church. This complaint is filed pursuant to the jurisdiction and authority granted in the Discipline. 413, 2624 and 2625, among others, permit and provide for the filing of complaints and charges against a Bishop of the United Methodist Church, and set forth conduct or offenses that can be basis for complaints or charges. 2625(1) states that a "charge shall not allege more than one of the offenses set forth in 2624," and accordingly this is one of four separate complaints.

4.2 The following is the Factual Basis for this Fourth Complaint or Charge: Sprague has failed to administer the Northern Illinois Conference in a business-like fashion, and has neglected the management and administration of the Conference, on information and belief, in at least the following ways:

(1) The Northern Illinois Conference Journal, as required by Church administrative regulations, has been grossly delayed.

(2) The annual pension report has been so delayed in its filing as to be almost meaningless.

(3) A proposed restructuring as instructed by Sprague through an "Interim Model Task Force" was specifically found contrary to the U.M. Constitution and the Discipline by the Judicial Council, and Sprague persists in attempting similar changes in church structure.

(4) The Northern Illinois Annual Conferences for 1999 and 2000 failed to have essential written reports and supporting materials to Delegates in advance, have failed to have nominations for election of the conference Board of Trustees and Committee on Finance and Administration in advance, and have neglected numerous other requirements of church administrative rules.

(5) The Northern Illinois Annual Conferences for 1999 and 2000 have severely limited time for legislative sessions or for floor discussion at plenary sessions. This has had the effect of permitting the Bishop to control and dominate the business of the Conference, and prevent meaningful input from the laity.

(6) Budgetary matters have not been presented in a timely fashion or in sufficient time for advance planning of Conference financial matters. Competent financial management has been neglected and poorly supervised, to the point of repeated resignations of Conference treasurers.

(7) At the time of this neglectful conduct Sprague was a consecrated Bishop of the United Methodist Church. Therefore, he was under special vows taken at the time of his consecration. He had been set apart in his consecration to be responsible for:

"...the general oversight and promotion of the temporal and spiritual interests of the entire church and for carrying into effect the rules, regulations, and responsibilities prescribed and enjoined by the General Conference...." (Discipline 45, Article III, The Constitution of the United Methodist Church).

(8) Further, Bishop Sprague has been called, as a servant to Jesus Christ, to servant leadership; and is

"...set apart for a ministry of general oversight and supervision...to guard the faith, order, liturgy, doctrine and discipline of the Church; to seek and be a sign of the unity of the faith; to exercise the discipline of the whole church, to supervise and support the Church's life, work and mission..." (Discipline 404.1)

4.3 Accordingly, my Specific Charge or Complaint is that Bishop Sprague is charged with the following offense:

"(d) failure to perform the work of the ministry." (Discipline 262.4.1(d).)

4.4 In support of this charge or complaint, I offer the following Argument:

(1) Bishop C. Joseph Sprague, by failing properly to administer the Northern Illinois Conference of the United Methodist Church, has violated his obligations as required in 404 of the Discipline of general oversight and supervision of the church, as well as, in 415:

"To provide general oversight for the fiscal and program operations of the annual conference(s)."

(2) A Bishop of the United Methodist Church is obligated to conduct him or herself in a manner that is faithful to the Holy Scriptures, the Articles of Religion, Constitution and Discipline of the United Methodist Church.

(3) Bishop Sprague's neglect of administration violated his obligation as an Episcopal leader of our denomination.

(4) Although individually any one of these items may appear of modest impact, the cumulative effect is malfeasance and nonfeasance of office violate the Discipline and his own Episcopal vows.

4.5 In Conclusion, this complainant respectfully requests that Bishop Sprague be tried for the complaint and charge stated, asked to resign, and if he refuses, that he be removed or suspended.

Respectfully Submitted,

 

John E. Juergensmeyer

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