Section 1. Purpose.
The hearing is a part of the investigative process of a complaint against a minister. Its purpose is to decide if the evidence included in the investigative report and presented at the hearing warrants a trial.
Section 2. Notice.
1. If the investigative committee determines that the investigation indicates a need for a hearing, the chair shall submit to the District Board a written investigative report setting forth the nature of the alleged violation as the basis of a hearing.
2. The District Board shall conduct the hearing.
3. The District Superintendent shall set the date, place, and time for the hearing that will be heard by the District Board. The date for the hearing shall not be less than fifteen (15) days and not more than sixty (60) days from the time the accused minister receives notice of the hearing.
4. The District Superintendent or District Secretary shall issue a summons to the accused minister of the designated place, date, and time of the hearing. The summons shall be by official notice. (See Article I, Section 1, Paragraph 6.) He shall also provide him or her a copy of the investigative report and the complaint(s) by official notice.
(a) If the accused minister is unable to attend the hearing on the date set because of illness, disability, or any other legitimate reason, he or she must notify the District Superintendent in writing, stating his or her reason. Such notice must be received by the District Superintendent at least forty-eight (48) hours prior to the designated time of the hearing. If the investigative committee determines that the reason is valid, the District Superintendent shall contact the accused minister and reschedule the hearing.
(b) If the investigative committee determines that the reason given by the accused minister is not valid, the District Superintendent shall notify the minister that the hearing is still scheduled at the originally designated time, and the minister shall appear at the hearing.
(c) If an emergency prevents the accused minister from attending (see Article I, Section 3, Paragraph 1), the accused minister shall obtain two (2) unbiased ordained ministers as witnesses to the emergency. In this case, the hearing shall be rescheduled.
(d) If a minister fails to attend the hearing, the District Board may recommend to the credentials committee that the minister be dropped from the ministry without recourse to a trial.
Section 3. Procedure.
1. The hearing before the District Board gives the accused minister an opportunity to respond to the evidence and the District Board an opportunity to question and discuss the matter with him or her. The hearing should be conducted with brotherly love, with respect for all present, and as informally as the occasion will permit.
2. The accused minister may have one or two counselors to assist him or her during the hearing. He or she shall notify the District Superintendent in writing of the names of his or her counselors at least five (5) days before the date of the hearing. Failure to notify the District Superintendent in this manner may cause the accused minister to forfeit his or her right to counselors during the hearing.
3. The District Superintendent shall preside at the hearing and the District Secretary shall serve as recording secretary.
4. Only the members of the District Board, the members of the investigative committee, the accused minister, and his or her counselors may attend the hearing. A witness shall be present at the hearing only during his or her testimony.
5. A designated member of the investigative committee shall read the investigative report before the presentation or discussion of the evidence.
6. The accused minister and his or her counselors may respond to the complaint.
7. The accused minister and his or her counselors may present witnesses and other evidence on his or her behalf.
8. The District Board may hear other witnesses who have personal knowledge about the evidence stated in the investigative report.
9. Members of the District Board, the two (2) counselors chosen by the District Board, and the two (2) counselors for the accused minister may question any witness. In the event the accused minister does not have a counselor, he or she may question witnesses himself or herself.
Section 4. Disposition.
1. If the District Board determines that the evidence does not warrant a trial, it shall dismiss the complaint against the minister.
2. If the District Board determines by a two-thirds majority vote that the evidence warrants a trial, then:
(a) The District Superintendent may meet with the accused minister, his or her counselors, and two (2) ministers selected by the District Superintendent in an attempt to resolve the matter without a trial to the satisfaction of the accused minister and the District Board.
(b) If there is no such resolution of the matter, the District Board shall draft a charge or multiple charges according to Article I, Section 2, Paragraph 5. It shall then forward the charge or charges to the regional presiding officer as the basis of a trial. The accused minister cannot appeal this decision of the District Board.
3. If the accused minister confesses in writing to a violation of the ministerial rules and obligations, a breach of his or her ministerial trust, a violation of ministerial ethics, a deviation from a tenet of faith, or conduct unbecoming to a minister, then there shall be no trial on the matter to which he or she has confessed. The District Board shall take one or more of the following actions on this confession.
(a) Warn and advise the minister.
(b) Take appropriate disciplinary action, which may include a rehabilitation program.
(c) Place the minister on probation. Any minister placed on probation shall submit his or her fellowship card to the District Superintendent for the duration of the probation. He or she shall support the district and pay his or her budget fees. He or she shall not be permitted to preach or to transfer his or her membership to another district. He or she may be required to participate in a rehabilitation program.
(d) Recommend to the credentials committee that the minister be dropped from the ministry of the United Pentecostal Church International.
4. The action taken by the District Board may be explained to the minister orally and it shall be communicated to him or her by official notice. In the case of disciplinary action, the District Board shall specify what is expected of the minister to remedy the violation. In the case of probation, the District Board shall inform the minister of the restrictions and specify the date the probation ends or is reviewed.
5. Within twenty (20) days after he or she receives official notice of the action taken by the District Board, the minister who confesses may appeal the sentence to the ministers appeal council. (For the appeal process, see Article X, Section 5.)
6. In the event that the ministers appeal council overturns the decision of the District Board, the District Board may appeal to the General Board, whose decision shall be final.
(a) The appeal shall be a review of the decision of the ministers appeal council.
(b) The General Secretary shall send by official notice a copy of the appeal of the District Board to the accused minister.
(c) The General Superintendent shall set the place, date, and time for reviewing the appeal, preferably but not necessarily at the next General Board meeting, and shall communicate the same by official notice to the accused minister, regional presiding officer, the District Superintendent, and if a special General Board meeting is necessary, to the members of the General Board. He shall be the presiding officer at the appeal.
(d) At the appeal, only the members of the General Board, the District Superintendent, his counselors, the accused minister, and his or her counselors may be present.
(e) During the appeal process, the District Superintendent shall present the side of the District Board first.
(f) The counselors for the accused minister shall be allowed to present the side of the accused minister.
(g) The General Board shall (1) sustain the decision of the ministers appeal council or (2) overturn the decision of the ministers appeal council in favor of the action by the District Board.
(h) The General Secretary shall communicate by official notice the decision of the General Board to the accused minister and the District Superintendent.
7. In case of an alleged violation of the restrictions imposed on a minister for discipline or probation, the matter shall be handled by the District Board.
The above is part of the judicial procedure of the United Pentecostal Church International and is provided for informational purposes.