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Decision No. 179

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October 27 1960
In Re: Ruling of Bishop Hazen G. Werner in the North-East Ohio Conference as to the Right of the Annual Conference to Enact a Compulsory Apportionment to the Ministerial Members for the Support of the Minimum Salary Plan

Digest of Case

An Annual Conference has no right to enact a compulsory apportionment to the ministerial members of the Annual Conference for the support of the Minimum Salary Plan or Fund of the Annual Conference.

Statement of Facts

The North-East Ohio Conference made the following request to the Bishop for a ruling on a point of law: "Does an Annual Conference have the right to enact a compulsory apportionment to the ministerial members of the Annual Conference for the support of the Minimum Salary Plan or Fund of the Annual Conference?" "Ruling of the Bishop on Point of law. . . . Bishop Werner ruled that the Annual Conference has a right to enact an apportionment upon the ministers for minimum salary support. He cited Paragraph 634 of the 1956 Discipline." JURISDICTION Under clause No. 3 of Paragraph 43 of the Constitution this ruling is properly before the Judicial Council. ANALYSIS Paragraph 22 of the 1960 Discipline provides in part: "The Annual Conference is the basic body in the church, and as such shall have reserved to it... such other rights as have not been delegated to the General Conference. . . ." Paragraph 634 of the 1960 Discipline states: "The Annual Conference may make rules to govern its own procedure; provided that no Annual Conference shall make any rule contrary to the Constitution or to the powers granted it by the General Conference. An Annual Conference cannot financially obligate the Methodist Church or an organizational unit thereof except the Annual Conference itself." Paragraph 826 of the 1960 Discipline provides in part: "Minimum Salaries - 1. Each Annual Conference shall adopt a schedule of minimum salaries for pastors and shall create a Commission on Minimum Salaries composed of ministers and laymen to administer it...... 3. "The Commission on Minimum Salaries shall present its estimate of the amount required to comply with the schedule of minimum salaries for the pastors, as adopted by the Conference, to the Conference Commission on World Service and Finance, which shall apportion the amount as an item of ministerial support to the districts or charges as the Conference may direct." Paragraph 822 of the 1960 Discipline provides in part: "Each Annual Conference shall determine what plan and method shall be used in distributing the apportionments to its several districts and charges ... for the minimum salary fund. . . ." From the above quoted portions of the Discipline, it is clear that the Annual Conference is the basic body in the Church, and as such, it does have definite rights and privileges. Where, however, the Discipline sets forth certain mandatory requirements and outlines the procedure whereby its requirements shall be met, the Annual Conference no longer has freedom to set up its own independent method of attaining a similar goal. In this case, the Discipline provides that each Annual Conference shall adopt a schedule of minimum salaries and shall create a Commission on Minimum Salaries. It likewise provides that the Commission shall apportion the required amount as an item of ministerial support to the districts or charges, and that the Annual Conference shall determine the plan and method used in distributing the apportionments to the districts and charges. A definite mandatory procedure has been set forth in the Discipline as a means of providing for minimum salaries. (See Decision No. 90 of the Judicial Council.) It is clear that the Annual Conference cannot set up a different method or a supplemental method by enacting a compulsory apportionment or an apportionment on the ministerial members of the Annual Conference or upon the ministers for the support of the Minimum Salary Plan. Any apportionment is to be made on the districts and/or the charges, and not upon the ministerial members of the Annual Conference.

Decision

It is the decision of the Judicial Council that the ruling of Bishop Werner was not correct and that an Annual Conference cannot properly enact a compulsory apportionment to the ministerial members of the Annual Conference for the support of the Minimum Salary Plan or Fund of the Annual Conference.

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