What happens at a Church disciplinary council?
Before Church discipline is ever considered, a local leader will meet with the individual — often many times — to discuss the nature of the behavior in question and to help them prepare to overcome their challenges. If the local leader feels that Church discipline is a necessary step, he will discuss that with the individual and notify them that a disciplinary council will be held.
The large majority of disciplinary councils occur at the ward, or local congregational level. For these councils, a bishop and his two counselors invite the individual into a private meeting that begins with prayer. The person is invited to participate in a discussion where the bishop and the individual describe the behavior and any steps that have been taken to repent. There is opportunity for questions and discussion, and the individual may ask that others give testimony on his or her behalf.
Following that discussion, the bishop and his two counselors meet privately to pray, deliberate, consider Church policies and doctrines and counsel together about the possible outcomes. They take into consideration many factors, including whether the member has broken marriage covenants; whether a position of responsibility or trust has been abused; the repetition or seriousness of the transgression; the age, maturity and understanding of the individual; the degree of the individual’s understanding and evidence of repentance; and the interests of victims or family members. As the conclusion of this discussion, the bishop proposes a course of action, which must be ratified by his counselors.