Petitions to GC2020: Reduce Inappropriate Medical Disclosure and Discrimination

This is legislation I plan to submit to General Conference, regarding candidacy, clergy status, and the medical forms. This legislation failed by ONE vote in 2016. The UMC may or may not look anything like the denomination we know come May 15, 2020, but if it does, I hope we stop asking candidates for their BMI, blood pressure, and results of pap smears or prostate exams. Let the doctors do that stuff.

Legislation Submitted to General Conference 2020: Reduce Inappropriate Medical Disclosure and Discrimination

Summary: Six paragraphs of the Book of Discipline ask a candidate for licensed/ordained ministry or one seeking transfer/reinstatement for a specific medical form. The form, however, discloses more information than a District Committee or Board of Ordained Ministry needs to have in order to make a determination about an individual’s fitness for ministry. This bundle of legislation addresses these paragraphs, changing the form to a letter of good health from a physician, which would include the necessary information without the risk of disclosing more confidential data. Furthermore, drawing on language already in the Discipline, these paragraphs will clarify and make consistent the UMC’s non-discrimination on the basis of disabilities or diagnoses that do not otherwise hinder a person’s ability to serve in the ministry to which they are applying.

 

I. Title: Reduce Inappropriate Medical Disclosure and Discrimination – Licensed Ministry

Motion: Amend the Book of Discipline ¶315.6.c (License for Pastoral Ministry) as follows:

  1. c) Provided the board with a satisfactory letter from a physician stating the individual’s good health and listing any medical restrictions or modifications as applicable. Disabilities and diagnoses are not to be construed as unfavorable health factors when a person with a disability or diagnosis is capable of meeting the professional standards and is able to render effective service as one licensed for pastoral ministry. certificate of good health on a prescribed form from a physician approved by that board.

Rationale: Replaces the health form with a letter from a physician, eliminating the high potential for confidential information to be disclosed in violation of the candidate’s privacy. Adds that disabilities / diagnoses are not grounds for lack of fitness for ministry, making the policy consistent with that for provisional members.

II. Title: Reduce Inappropriate Medical Disclosure and Discrimination – Provisional Membership 

Motion: Amend the Book of Discipline ¶324.8 (Provisional Membership) as follows:

  1. Each candidate shall present a satisfactory letter from a physician stating the individual’s good health and listing any medical restrictions or modifications as applicable. certificate of good health by a physician on the prescribed form. Disabilities and diagnoses are not to be construed as unfavorable health factors when a person with a disability or diagnosis is capable of meeting the professional standards and is able to render effective service as a provisional member.

Rationale: Replaces the detailed health form with a letter from a physician, eliminating the high potential for confidential information on the health form to be disclosed in violation of the candidate’s privacy. This also clarifies that both disabilities and diagnoses are not grounds for lack of fitness for ministry.

III. Title: Reduce Inappropriate Medical Disclosure and Discrimination – Transfers

Motion: Amend the Book of Discipline ¶347.3.a (Transfers From Other Denominations) as follows:

  1. From Other Denominations – a) On recommendation of the Board of Ordained Ministry, the clergy members in full connection may recognize the orders of ordained clergy from other denominations and receive them as provisional members or local pastors. They shall present their credentials for examination by the bishop and Board of Ordained Ministry and give assurance of their Christian faith and experience. They shall give evidence of their agreement with and willingness to support and maintain United Methodist doctrine, discipline, and polity and present a satisfactory letter from a physician, as described in ¶324.8. certificate of good health on the prescribed form from a physician approved by the Board of Ordained Ministry.

[Retain the rest of the paragraph as written.]

Rationale: Replaces the health form with a letter from a physician, eliminating the high potential for confidential information to be disclosed in violation of the individual’s privacy. Refers back to disability / diagnosis non-discrimination for those seeking provisional membership, making the policy more consistent.

IV. Title: Reduce Inappropriate Medical Disclosure and Discrimination – Retirement Reinstatement 

Motion: Amend the Book of Discipline ¶357.7.2 (Return to Effective Relationship [from Retirement]) as follows:

(2) a satisfactory letter from a physician, as described in ¶324.8. certificate of good health on the prescribed form from a physician approved by the Board of Ordained Ministry.

[Retain the rest of the paragraph as written.]

Rationale:  (same as petition III)

V. Title: Reduce Inappropriate Medical Disclosure and Discrimination – Honorable or Administrative Location

Motion: Amend the Book of Discipline ¶365.3 (Readmission after Honorable or Administrative Location) as follows:

  1. A satisfactory letter from a physician, as described in ¶324.8. certificate of good health on the prescribed form from a physician approved by the Board of Ordained Ministry. The Board of Ordained Ministry shall require psychological evaluation.

Rationale:  (same as petition III)

VI. Title: Reduce Inappropriate Medical Disclosure and Discrimination – Involuntary Retirement

Motion: Amend the Book of Discipline ¶368.5 (Readmission after Involuntary Retirement) as follows:

  1. Presentation of satisfactory letter from a physician, as described in ¶324.8. certificate of good health on the prescribed form from a physician approved by the Board of Ordained Ministry.

[Retain the rest of the paragraph as written.]

Rationale:  (same as petition III)

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