Judicial Council Decisions Search
Decision No. 390
November 08 1974
In Re: Request of the Louisville Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church for a Declaratory Decision as to the Legality of Paragraph 1260.6 a-f of the 1972 Discipline Concerning Proportional Payments.
Digest of Case
Paragraph 1260.6 a-f of the Discipline, providing that when the apportionment to the pastoral charges for the pension and benefit program of an Annual Conference is determined that payments made theron by each pastoral charge shall be proportional payments made on the salary or salaries of the minister or ministers serving it, is constitutional.
Statement of Facts
The Louisville Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church on May 24, 1974 adopted the following resolution: "We move that Bishop Robertson request the Board of Pensions to look into the matter of Proportional Payment (1972 Discipline, Paragraph 1260.6 a-f) and bring recommendations to the 1974 session of the Annual Conference. "We further move that the Louisville Annual Conference support a request for a Judicial Council decision on the legality of Proportional Payment; that is, whether The United Methodist Church, in all fairness and conscience, can appoint a minister to a church and then require that unless the charge at which that minister has been appointed pays in full the pension and benefit benevolences apportioned to them, that that minister be subjected to the degradation of Proportional Payment." There is nothing presented in the resolution or supporting documents which questions the constitutionality of this provision of the Discipline, or which gives the Judicial Council a specific problem with which to deal. JURISDICTION The Judicial Council has jurisdiction in Paragraph 1515 of the 1972 Discipline. ANALYSIS This matter is before the Judicial Council on a petition for Declaratory Judgment questioning the constitutionality of Paragraph 1260.6 a-f of the 1972 Discipline which states: "a) When the apportionment to the pastoral charges for the pension and benefit program of the Annual Conference has been determined, payments made thereon by each pastoral charge shall be exactly proportionate to payments made on the salary or salaries of the minister or ministers serving it. * * * "f) It shall not be permissible for a pastor to receive a bonus of other supplementary compensation tending to defeat proportional payment. The board may recommend to the conference that the pastor's pension credit be disallowed for the year during which such bonus or supplementary compensation was so received." It should be noted that the Judicial Council has heretofore ruled on a similar question as contained in Decision No. 250 as to the constitutionality of then Paragraph 1634 and Paragraph 1624.3, .4, and .5. It is clear from that earlier decision that the provisions of Paragraph 1260.6 a-f are legal and constitutional. It could well be further stated that they are within the tradition and polity of The United Methodist Church and of those denominational bodies who historically make it up. Early in the history of American Methodism there are constant references to the fact that the traveling preachers had to account for all monies raised and turn over all surplus for the support of their other brethren, their widows and children, except traveling expenses. Later in the early history of American Methodism there are references to the need to raise funds for, ". . . worn out preachers." There are repeated references in the Disciplines, of both the Methodist Episcopal Church and the Methodist Episcopal Church South beginning in 1882 as shown in the attached appendix which indicate that the "preacher in charge" has the responsibility for collecting claims of the church, pensions and the support of the connectional system. These Disciplines frequently, and particularly since 1939, contain almost the same language as is used in the current paragraph of the Discipline. Bishop Roy H. Short in his new book United Methodism in Theory and Practice comments: "The funds for the support of the episcopacy and the district superintendency and funds for pensions and minimum salaries are all related on a ratio basis to the pastor's salary. If the salary of the pastor is paid in full these too must be paid in full; and if it is not paid in full these funds are to be shorted proportionately. Back of this provision lies the assumption that all the ministry of the United Methodism is one ministry forever intimately related."
It is the decision of the Judicial Council that Paragraph 1260.6 a-f of the 1972 Discipline concerning the responsibility of a minister in charge in the matter of proportional payment on Conference Pensions is constitutional. November 9, 1974 APPENDIX PARTIAL LIST OF REFERENCES A. METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH SOUTH Book of Discipline 1882, Paragraph 63, Questions 14 and 17 Book of Discipline 1886, Paragraph 65, Questions 14 and 17. Book of Discipline 1888, Paragraph 65, Questions 14 and 17. Book of Discipline 1894, Paragraphs 134 and 137. Book of Discipline 1896, Chapter 2, Section III. Book of Discipline 1910, Paragraph 141. Book of Discipline 1922, Paragraphs 161 and 165. Book of Discipline 1926, Paragraph 154. Book of Discipline 1930, Paragraph 160. Book of Discipline 1934, Paragraph 164. Book of Discipline 1938, Paragraph 164. B. METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH Book of Discipline 1888, Paragraphs 189 and 190. Book of Discipline 1892, Paragraph 189. Book of Discipline 1896, Paragraph 193, Sub Section 27. Book of Discipline 1904, Paragraph 193, Sub Section 27. Book of Discipline 1912, Paragraph 179, Sub Section 23. Book of Discipline 1924, Paragraph 182, Sub Section 22. C. METHODIST CHURCH Book of Discipline 1939, Paragraphs 223 and 1324. Book of Discipline 1940, Paragraphs 551 and 552. Book of Discipline 1944, Paragraph 1624. Book of Discipline 1948, Paragraph 1624. Book of Discipline 1952, Paragraph 1624. Book of Discipline 1960, Paragraph 1624. Book of Discipline 1968, Paragraph 1380.6 Book of Discipline 1972, Paragraph 1260.6 a-f and 889.