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Decision No. 194

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October 11 1962
In Re: Equity of Central Pennsylvania Annual Conference in Washington Area Episcopal Residence Fund

Digest of Case

Under Paragraph 712 of the 1960 Discipline the Central Pennsylvania Annual Conference has an equity in the Washington Area Episcopal Residence Fund.

Statement of Facts

From factual data submitted to the Judicial Council it appears that: 1. In 1922, the Washington Area authorized the purchase of an episcopal residence at a cost of about $65,000; 2. The Central Pennsylvania Annual Conference, one of three Annual Conferences then composing said Washington Area, agreed to levy thirty cents per church member toward its proportional part of the cost of this residence; 3. The entire cost of the residence including both the original purchase price and carrying charges, was liquidated in 1941 with the Central Pennsylvania Annual Conference having contributed across the years the sum of $27,085.76 to the episcopal residence fund; 4. In 1942, the residence was sold for $28,000.00 which has since that time been appreciated through interest and investments and depreciated by expenditures on the apartment occupied by the resident bishop of the Washington Area resulting in an approximate balance of $30,400.00 in the fund on August 9, 1961; 5. The Central Pennsylvania Annual Conference was transferred by the 1960 Northeastern Jurisdictional Conference from the Washington Area to a newly formed Western Pennsylvania Area composed of the Pittsburgh, Erie, and Central Pennsylvania Annual Conferences; 6. An episcopal residence, which had served the former Pittsburgh Area composed of the West Virginia, the Pittsburgh, and Erie Annual Conferences, was located in Pittsburgh; 7. When the Pittsburgh Area was dissolved and a new West Virginia Area, composed solely of the West Virginia Annual Conference, established, the trustees of the Pittsburgh Area episcopal residence paid the West Virginia Conference the sum of $19,111.80 for its interest in the episcopal residence in Pittsburgh; 8. At that time levies were made upon the three Annual Conferences composing the Western Pennsylvania Area, including the Central Pennsylvania Annual Conference, toward the expense of a residence for the bishop of the Western Pennsylvania Area; 9. The residence already existent in the city of Pittsburgh was found adequate and was acquired as the episcopal residence for the Western Pennsylvania Area; 10. The Central Pennsylvania Annual Conference, having received its levy toward ownership of this episcopal residence in turn, requested the Washington Area Episcopal Residence Committee for an equity in the Washington Area Episcopal Residence Fund; 11. Due to uncertainty as to the meaning and intent of Paragraph 712 of the 1960 Discipline this request has not been granted; 12. At its 1961 session the Central Pennsylvania Annual Conference requested "a declaratory decision from the Judicial Council on the question whether in accordance with Paragraph 712 of the 1960 Discipline, it is not entitled to its equity in the assets held by the trustees of the Washington Area episcopal residence and ought not to receive payment of the same promptly"; 13. On October 19, 1961, the Judicial Council took jurisdiction and continued the case by the adoption of the following motion: "This case is continued and under Paragraph 915 of the 1960 Discipline, the Secretary of the Judicial Council is directed to notify the petitioners to give notice to the Peninsula and Baltimore Conferences of the appeal which is being made by the Central Pennsylvania Annual Conference to the Judicial Council. The Secretary is directed to notify the interim officers of the Peninsula and Baltimore Conferences and the Chairman of the Episcopal Residence Committee of the Washington Area, giving notice that the custodian of funds of the Episcopal Residence Committee is requested and directed not to make distribution or disposition of this fund, pending determination of the matter by the Judicial Council." Jurisdiction The Judicial Council has assumed jurisdiction in this case under the provisions of Paragraph 914.2 of the 1960 Discipline. Analysis Paragraph 712 of the 1960 Discipline clearly provides that "should an Annual Conference contribute to the purchase of an episcopal residence and later be transferred to an area not owning one, if it shall ask payment for an equity, such claim shall not be denied." There is no question that the Central Pennsylvania Annual Conference contributed to a Washington Episcopal Area Residence and that there is now a residual fund remaining from the sale of said residence. Therefore the only matter to be determined is whether the Central Pennsylvania Annual Conference qualifies under Paragraph 712 of the 1960 Discipline "to ask payment for an equity" from this fund. The 1960 Northeastern Jurisdictional Conference seems to have taken pains to make clear the fact that the Western Pennsylvania Area was a new area and not simply the continuation of the former Pittsburgh Area. Furthermore it does not seem that the episcopal residence already existing in the city of Pittsburgh came to the new area without cost. The Western Pennsylvania Area, as established by the 1960 Northeastern Jurisdictional Conference, was composed of the Central Pennsylvania Annual Conference, taken from the Washington Area, plus the Pittsburgh and Erie Annual Conferences which had previously been co-joined with the West Virginia Conference in the Pittsburgh Area. At the same session the Northeastern Jurisdictional Conference constituted a West Virginia Area to be composed solely of the West Virginia Annual Conference taken, as had been the Pittsburgh and Erie Annual Conferences, from the former Pittsburgh Area. This was so clearly a new episcopal area and not the continuation of the former Pittsburgh Area that no specification of this fact is made in the recorded action of the Northeastern Jurisdictional Conference. But in the case of the Western Pennsylvania Are which was to contain the Pittsburgh and Erie Annual Conferences of the former Pittsburgh Area, the fact that the too, was a new area was not so self evident. The Northeastern Jurisdictional Conference, therefore, appears to have taken care to make its intention in the matter clear b providing for "combining the Central Pennsylvania, Erie, and Pittsburgh Conferences into a new (emphasis supplied Western Pennsylvania Area." (Journal of the Sixth Northeastern Jurisdictional Conference of The Methodist Church, page 369.) The newly established West Virginia Area had no episcopal residence existent within its borders. The equity of that conference in the episcopal area residence of the forme Pittsburgh Area was refunded by the Erie and Pittsburgh Annual Conferences. Subsequently the three Annual Conferences composing the new Western Pennsylvania Are decided to use the episcopal residence already existent I the city of Pittsburgh. Levies were placed upon the three Annual Conferences composing the new Western Pennsylvania Area to cover the necessary costs of occupying said residence as the episcopal residence of the Western Pennsylvania Area. Upon receiving its levy toward this expense the Central Pennsylvania Annual Conference made request for its equity in the Washington Area Episcopal Fund. From these facts it appears that the Western Pennsylvania Area was a new area with two of its conferences having interests in the episcopal residence of the former Pittsburgh Area and one of its conferences, the Central Pennsylvania, having an interest in the Episcopal Residence Fund of the Washington Area. It would further appear that mutually satisfactory division of equities in the episcopal residence of the former Pittsburgh Area has been made by the three conferences which composed that area with the West Virginia Annual Conference receiving its share in cash and the Pittsburgh and Erie Conferences receiving their shares in kind through an interest in the episcopal residence of the former Pittsburgh Area. It would further appear that just as these two conferences were entitled to and enabled to carry their interests in the episcopal residence of the area of which they bad previously been a part into the new Western Pennsylvania Area, thus also the third Annual Conference involved in the formation of the new area, the Central Pennsylvania, should be allowed to carry its interest in the episcopal area residence fund of the area, the Washington, of which it was formerly a part, into the new Western Pennsylvania Area.

Decision

It is therefore the decision of the Judicial Council that the Central Pennsylvania Annual Conference is entitled to and has an equity in the Washington Area Episcopal Residence Fund. (Lester A. Welliver disqualified himself and abstained from discussion or vote upon this decision .)

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