A prominent bishop in the United Methodist Church is becoming the first ever to face a church trial this week. She's being charged on multiple charges of harassment and financial wrongdoing.
If found guilty by the jury of 13 clergy members, she could lose her position all together.
Bishop Minerva G. Carcaño, a leader of the California-Nevada Conference or region of the United Methodist Church, was suspended from her church leadership role more than 18 months ago after the complaints were brought against her. Bishop Carcaño is the UMC's first ever bishop of Latin-American origin.
Typically, clergy may be suspended for up to 60 days, according to the church’s rule book.
The United Methodist Church is the second largest protestant denomination in the US, with around 245 congregations of predominantly Hispanic origin.
The four charges against her are disobedience to the order of the United Methodist Church; relationships and/or behaviour that undermine the ministry of another pastor; harassment including racial and or sexual harassment; and financial wrongdoing.
A member of the church's finance council says Bishop Carcaño used church funds to renovate personal accommodation, without permission from the church. She's also alleged to have interfered inappropriately with the California-Nevada Conference board of trustees on what to do with the property of Trinity United Methodist Church in Berkeley, California.
“We exhausted every option at the annual conference level to resolve this and we saw evidence of inappropriate use of funds, ” said Kristin Stoneking, chair of the Council on Finance and Administration for the conference.
The trial is expected to conclude on Friday.