The first-ever United Methodist Church (UMC) bishop of Latin-American origin who was suspended from her position as a church leader more than 18 months ago over multiple charges of financial fraud and harassment has been found not guilty on all charges.
Bishop Minerva G. Carcaño, a leader of the California-Nevada Conference, or region, of the United Methodist Church, was accused of disobedience to the denomination’s order and discipline, the undermining of another pastor, harassment, and fiscal malfeasance.
However, following the conclusion of a church trial held in a Chicago suburb on Friday, a jury of 13 ordained church members swiftly rendered a verdict announcing that the bishop is innocent of all the charges against her.
The Rev. Lyssette Perez, president of a group of Hispanic United Methodists called Methodists Associated Representing the Cause of Hispanic/Latino Americans, or MARCHA, who witnessed the trial described the entire proceeding as distressing.
“This should not be the way that we solve problems in the church,” Perez said, referring to the public trial, which was livestreamed. “We cannot continue to hurt each other. We need to find ways to work together and try to collaborate with one another.”
The judgment, however, was a cause for joy for the numerous Minerva supporters among the Hispanic members of the faith. The bishop’s lengthy suspension which went beyond the 60 days specified in the church’s rules had drawn criticism from many who thought it was punishment. They emphasized that the United Methodist Church had never previously tried a bishop or suspended him for this long.
A Church official was quoted by Religion News Services as saying that Bishop Minerva will now return to her position as leader of the California-Nevada Conference.
The 69-year-old is expected to retire at the end of August 2024 according to the church rule.