Judicial Council Reinstates Bishop Bledsoe
The Dallas Area bishop who was involuntarily retired in July is to be “immediately reinstated to his rightful status as an active bishop of The United Methodist Church,” the denomination’s top court has ruled.
In its Nov. 10 decision, the United Methodist Judicial Council overturned the action of the South Central Jurisdiction Committee on Episcopacy and “the affirmation” of that action by the 2012 South Central Jurisdictional Conference regarding Bishop W. Earl Bledsoe. The council cited “numerous errors in violation of the principles of fair process” and “the inability to articulate” what the “best interests” of the church or of the bishop or of both would be.
Bishop W. Earl Bledsoe, 62, a first-time bishop who had overseen the North Texas Annual (regional) Conference for the past four years, was forced to retire Aug. 31. His status had been in limbo pending the results of his appeal to Judicial Council, which was considered during a Nov. 9-10 special session in Phoenix.
In its ruling, the council said Bledsoe is entitled to an immediate episcopal assignment in the South Central Jurisdiction; to restoration of all status, salary and benefits and to compensation for costs “incurred by him in defense of this action.”