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Decision No. 304

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November 08 1968
In Re: Request of the Southwest Texas Annual Conference for DeclaratoryDecision as to Legality of the Conference Board of Pensions Report Adopted by the Annual Conference.

Digest of Case

An Annual Conference has the power to establish the formula for contributions to be made by its ministerial members to its pension funds, provided the annual contribution required does not exceed 3% of ministerial support.

Statement of Facts

The Southwest Texas Annual Conference at its 1968 Annual Session adopted the report of its Conference Board of Pensions, Paragraph 5 of which recommended that an apportionment equal to 2% of total salary, expense account or travel allowance, and utility allowance, less 10% be levied against each minister and lay (supply) pastor with annuity claim and that the amount thus levied be placed in the Endowment Fund of the Board of Pensions. An exception was made that: "areduction of 20% of total salary, expense account, and utility allowance shall be figured for district superintendents and members of the conference staff who are provided with larger expense accounts to care for extended travel." On June 1, 1968, the Southwest Texas Annual Conference adopted a resolution requesting a declaratory decision as to the legality of the provisions of Paragraph 5 of the Conference Board of Pensions Report under the provision of Paragraph 1381.4(e) of the 1968 Discipline. JURISDICTION Jurisdiction is accepted by the Judicial Council under Paragraph 1715 of the 1968 Discipline. ANALYSIS An Annual Conference is granted broad powers to require contributions from its ministerial members to its permanent or reserve fund for the benefit of annuitants or beneficiaries, subject to the general supervision and administration of the General Board of Pensions as prescribed by legislation of the General Conference. In this case the Conference Board of Pensions recommended an apportionment or contribution formula equal to 2% of total salary, expense or travel allowance, and utility allowance, less 10% for ministers and 20% for district superintendents and conference staff. Paragraph 1381.4(e) of the 1968 Discipline on which a ruling is sought provides: "4. A conference subject to the laws of the state in which it is incorporated shall have power to require from its ministerial members and lay pastors who are serving with pension credit from the conference an annual contribution to either its permanent or reserve fund or for current distribution or to a preachers aid society for the benefit of its beneficiaries, subject to the following provisions: * * * "e) . . . . the annual contribution required from a ministerial member of the conference or a lay pastor shall not exceed an amount equal to three percent of his support." (emphasis added) The limitation of (e) above is not only a ceiling but a limitation of the levy to items of ministerial support. By no stretch of the imagination is the reimbursement of a minister for actual expenses incurred in his parish work properly included as an item of "ministerial support."

Decision

Paragraph 1381.4(e) of the 1968 Discipline empowers an Annual Conference to establish the formula for contributions to be made by its ministerial members to its pension funds, provided the annual contribution required does not exceed three per cent of ministerial support. The formula adopted by the Southwest Texas Annual Conference does not violate the meaning, application, or effect of Paragraph 1381.4(e) of the 1968 Discipline.

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