A United Methodist Church bishop in California who was put on church trial has been cleared of harassment and financial wrongdoing.
During four days of testimony, the bishop’s subordinates described Bishop Minerva Carcaño as exceeding her authority on financial matters and harassing those who questioned her.
Specifically, the bishop was alleged to have encouraged the hiring of her daughter Sofia as an administrative assistant, providing her rent-free housing, before using a conference fund to renovate it.
Carcaño was also accused of interfering with the authority of the California-Nevada Conference board of trustees on the use church property. In another charge, she was accused of not providing a clergywoman the full 12-week maternity leave stipulated in church rules.
The Rev. Lyssette Perez, president of Methodists Associated Representing the Cause of Hispanic/Latino Americans (MARCHA), who monitored the trial, said the entire process was painful.
“This should not be the way that we solve problems in the church,” said Perez, referring to the trial which was publicly livestreamed. “We cannot continue to hurt each other. We need to find ways to work together and try to collaborate with one another.”
Many supporters of the bishop had raised concerns about her 18-month suspension, far beyond the 60 days called for in the church’s rule book, suggesting it was itself a form of punishment.
The 69-year-old bishop has been told she can resume her leadership of the California-Nevada Conference.