|Hand-carved UMC bishop's crozier|
2. The resident bishop picks the presiding officer. (BOD ¶2713.2) The presiding officer must be a bishop but does not need to be a white, male, retired bishop from one of the more conservative jurisdictions of the denomination. He or she does not even need to be a retired bishop and could be a younger bishop more attuned to a younger demographic. The presiding officer makes a lot of crucial decisions about who will be and will not be allowed to testify and what topics can be discussed during the trial. The presiding bishop determines the questions to ask to remove people from the jury. Because the resident bishop selects the presiding officer, he or she should be held responsible for the decisions the presiding officer makes.
3. The resident bishop selects the district superintendents who select the jury pool. (BOD ¶2713.3.a) The bishop can ask the cabinet to select people who are mainstream and thoughtful. Clergy who are rigid or fundamentalist do not need to be included in the pool.
4. Even before the trial, at the conclusion of the supervisory response, the resident bishop determines, with the consent of the cabinet, whether or not to dismiss the complaint. (BOD ¶363.1.e) At the very least, any complaint based on a personal grudge or vendetta should be dismissed. The same expectations the United Methodist Church has of civil authority should apply, at a minimum, to church authority: "We reject all misuse of these mechanisms, including their use for the purpose of revenge or for persecution or intimidating those whose race, appearance, lifestyle, economic condition, or beliefs differs from those in authority." (BOD ¶164.H) In fact, the Book of Discipline does not specify the reasons needed for the bishop to dismiss the complaint. [BOD ¶363.1.e(1)] The only requirement is that the bishop have the consent of the cabinet and give the reasons for her or his decision in writing. The complainant having no personal involvement in the activity being complained about or not personally being harmed by it may be adequate reason to dismiss a complaint.
5. Even before the trial, the resident bishop has the option of including "persons with qualifications and experience in assessment, intervention, or healing" in the supervisory response process in order to avoid a trial. (BOD ¶363.1.b) The bishop has the unilateral authority to choose who these persons will be. Nothing in the Book of Discipline prevents the bishop from informing a complainant that her or his requirements to reach a just resolution are unreasonable. If a complainant refuses to sign "a written statement of resolution"(BOD ¶363.1.c), nothing prevents the bishop from dismissing the complaint with the consent of the cabinet. (BOD ¶363.1.e)
6. Even before a complaint is filed, the resident bishop can shape the continuing education of clergy in the conference. (BOD ¶414 3,5) The bishop can promote education and learning about restorative rather than retributive justice as advocated in the Book of Disciple. (BOD ¶164.H) According to ¶164.H, "Through God's transforming power, restorative justice seeks to repair the damage, right the wrong, and bring healing to all involved, including the victim, the offender, the families, and the community." The bishop can make sure that her or his conference is educated about the principles of restorative justice long before a complaint is filed or a trial is held.
7. Bishops can help advocate for and work for changes in the Book of Discipline so that pastors are not tried for being in full ministry with LGBTQ persons. In fact, this would seem to be part of the mandate given bishops by the Book of Discipline to "interpret the faith evangelically and prophetically" (BOD ¶414.3) and to lead through "a prophetic commitment to the transformation of the Church and the world. (BOD ¶403.1.d)
8. Finally, bishops can stop saying there is nothing bishops can do.