From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
Nebraska pastor files suit against Bishop Martinez
10 Jun 1998 11:18:17
June 10, 1998 Contact: Linda Green*(615)742-5470*Nashville, Tenn.
NOTE: This story may be used as a sidebar to UMNS story #356
By United Methodist News Service
As a call was being made for attacks against Nebraska United Methodist
Bishop Joel Martinez to cease, the bishop and other leaders attending
the Nebraska Annual Conference in Lincoln learned that a lawsuit had
been filed against them in the public courts.
The Rev. Kenneth McQueen Jr., 57, a local pastor serving the Genoa
(Neb.) United Methodist Church, has filed a lawsuit against Martinez
and 15 clergy colleagues seeking $900,000 in damages and attorney fees.
Legal notices were delivered to the bishop and church leaders during the
June 2-5 session of the Nebraska Annual Conference.
Speaking to more than 800 clergy and lay delegates June 3, the Rev. Rex
Bevins, chairman of the conference's Episcopacy Committee, said Martinez
had been the victim of "slanderous attacks, unwarranted complaints,
abusive letters and phone calls, and violent threats" and added,
"Friends, its' got to stop and the time is now."
In the suit filed June 1, McQueen charged Martinez and conference
leaders with breech of contract, defamation of character and emotional
distress. The lawsuit was filed in Lancaster (Neb.) County District
Court, after McQueen said he was denied his ordination as elder and his
credentials as a deacon were revoked.
In addition to Martinez, three of the conference's eight district
superintendents were named in the suit along with a former district
superintendent and members of the board of ordained ministry.
Martinez would not comment on the lawsuit. "This is now a legal matter
and on advice from conference counsel, there is no statement," he said.
"We will respond to the lawsuit within the allotted time frame."
McQueen said he filed the lawsuit, "because I have followed the United
Methodist Discipline to obtain justice and continue to be denied due
process and advocacy by Bishop Martinez and the Nebraska Conference."
McQueen, ordained a deacon in South Dakota in 1992, went to Nebraska in
1993 after graduating from seminary and was appointed as a local pastor
to the Adams and Hopewell United Methodist churches.
In the complaint, McQueen said his status as an ordained deacon in the
United Methodist Church was rescinded by the cabinet and board of
ordained ministry at the 1996 Nebraska Annual Conference even though he
had fulfilled all requirements for ordination as elder. He was assigned
the Genoa United Methodist Church in July 1996.
A local pastor is a lay person approved by a district committee on
ordained ministry and licensed by the bishop to perform the duties of a
pastor while assigned to a pastoral charge. The authority of a local
pastor must be reviewed annually. The approval for a license is given
after several requirements have been met.. Local pastors answer to the
conference clergy, who meet annually to evaluate their performance.
In December, McQueen and his wife, the Rev. Mary McQueen, along with
three other pastors, two pastor parish relations committees and a
layman, separately filed formal complaints against Martinez, charging
that he failed to perform his duties, broke church law and undermined
the ministry of the pastors. They requested that Martinez be suspended
or removed as bishop.
The complaints also charged some district superintendents with improper
McQueen's charges were forwarded to Bishop A. Frederick Mutti of Topeka,
Kan., president of the eight-state South Central Jurisdiction's College
of Bishops. He and a jurisdictional committee investigated the
In the lawsuit, McQueen contends that he was guaranteed ordination as an
elder if he would drop his suit against Martinez, a point which Mutti
denies. "The agreement Bishop Martinez made was to take McQueen's
request for ordination to the board of ordained ministry," Mutti told
United Methodist News Service. "There was no guarantee that McQueen
would be ordained or admitted into the conference."
McQueen said he was "betrayed" by Bishop Martinez and the church
leaders when he was fired from the United Methodist Church, effective
July 1 and his ministerial license was revoked.
United Methodist News Service
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