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Forum Features Legal Specialists


2015 Legal Forum Held in Baltimore


Nashville, TN – The Legal Services Department of the General Council on Finance and Administration (GCFA), in conjunction with the United Methodist Church Conference Chancellors’ Association (UMC3), hosted the 2015 Legal Forum in Baltimore, Maryland April 30 – May 3, 2015.  Approximately 65 annual conference chancellors, annual conference treasurers, and others in the United Methodist connection participated in this education event.  As an indication of the quality of this training, several general counsel from other church organizations in the country were in attendance. 

Annual Conference Chancellors provide meaningful legal representation and counseling to the Church in a wide variety of areas of the law.  The Legal Forum is one way GCFA helps to ensure that lawyers serving in this way are provided up-to-date information about important legal topics affecting the church.

Speakers at the conference included nationally known experts with extensive experience in private practice, academia, and government.  Presentations related to such topics as the ethics of pro bono service (conducted by the director of the American Bar Association Pro Bono Division); property trust clause issues (by lawyers who have tried cases related to the United Methodist and Episcopal Churches trust clauses); religion and global affairs (by a high ranking official at the State Department); insurance issues by a chancellor who is also clergy; and recent judicial treatment of religious liberty issues (by Dr. Douglas Laycock, a nationally known professor of law at the University of Virginia who specializes in these important issues.)

One of the highlights of the Legal Forum was an address by The Honorable Michael Chagares, a federal judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.  Judge Chagares shared his thoughts on “Christian Lawyer as Church Leader.”

Jody Curry, the chancellor for the Kentucky Annual Conference said, “I found the content of the presentations to be very pertinent to my work and role with the church. The updates on current issues are invaluable.  I am always glad when my schedule allows me to attend this meeting.” 

Moses Kumar, top executive with GCFA, also spoke at the Legal Forum.  He said, “It is always a pleasure to be with people who work to make the Church a more equitable place to worship and work.  What Chancellors do each day for the church facilitates ministry in the local church in ways most people never even recognize. I am grateful for the work of Chancellors and their witness.” 

As an indication of solidarity with the many persons of faith within the United Methodist connection dealing with the challenges faced during recent days in Baltimore, the leaders of the 2015 Legal Forum determined to move forward with the event.  The 2015 Legal Forum began with a worship service led by a clergy member of the Baltimore-Washington Annual Conference active in our church’s efforts in downtown Baltimore.  Legal Forum participants are currently sending financial donations to a ministry of the connection providing direct aid to people in the downtown area affected by the recent issues which also ministers to the youth of Baltimore.