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Decision No. 400

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October 16 1975
In Re: Petition from the North Mississippi Annual Conference for a Declaratory Decision as to the Meaning of Paragraphs 878, 882, and 831.9 (a) with Respect to the Distribution of Funds Within an Annual Conference.

Digest of Case

Paragraphs 878 and 882 provide for the distribution of World Service and conference benevolences by the conference treasurer as the Annual Conference has "acted and determined." Paragraph 831.9 does not relate to the distribution of funds within an Annual Conference.

Statement of Facts

The Secretary of North Mississippi Annual Conference, Claude Johnson, informed the Judicial Council of the following facts. During a business session of the North Mississippi Annual Conference at Grenada, Mississippi, June 6, 1975, the following statement and motion were submitted by L. C. Summers, a ministerial member: "The Council on Finance and Administration's Report, No. 2, 8, f on page 61 of "Program 1976" recommends as follows: 'Based upon the Conference objective and the priorities recommended by the Conference Council of Ministries and adopted by the Annual Conference, the committee (on Program Coordination) will evaluate the program budgets and submit to each board an adjusted figure for the current year, in order to bring the operation within the available anticipated funds for conference program. This means some boards may receive 100 per cent, others 80 per cent, while others may receive 60 per cent of the approved budget.' "We move the report be amended by substituting for the above following: "The conference treasurer shall distribute the funds received for conference benevolences according to the provisions of Paragraphs 878, and/or 882 of the Discipline of 1972." After some discussion the following motion was voted unanimously: "That the North Mississippi Annual Conference requests a Declaratory Decision of the Judicial Council as to the meaning of Paragraphs 878, 882 and 831.9 (a) with respect to their meaning as to the distribution of funds within an annual conference." Mr. Summers filed a brief with the Judicial Council. JURISDICTION The Judicial Council has jurisdiction under Paragraph 1515 of the 1972 Discipline. ANALYSIS From the facts supplied by the Secretary of the Annual Conference it is evident that the interpretation of the paragraphs of the Discipline referred will relate to the work of the Annual Conference, and thus, the petition for a declaratory decision is properly before the Judicial Council. Paragraph 878 requires first the local church treasurer to remit monthly all amounts contributed for World Service and conference benevolences to the conference treasurer who in turn is required each month to divide the total amount and to set aside "the proper amount for World Service and the proper amount for conference benevolences, according to the ratio established by the Annual Conference in the total World Service and conference budget." (Emphasis added.) The conference treasurer then distributes the "proper amount for conference benevolences" to the treasurers of the several agencies of the conference "according to the rightful share and proportion of each" and "the proper amount for World Service" to the treasurer of the Council on Finance and Administration. Paragraph 882 provides that the conference treasury may serve as a "depository for funds designated for any or all conference boards and agencies participating in the conference benevolences" and that the conference treasurer shall keep separate accounts for each such board or agency. "None of the above designated accounts shall be drawn on for the benefit of another." Paragraph 831.9 establishes the relationship of program boards and agencies of the Annual Conference with the Annual Conference Council on Ministries "in matters relating to the development, implementation, and administration of the program." Not in this subparagraph nor in any other paragraph of this section relating to the Annual Conference Council on Ministries (Pars. 831-834) is the Annual Conference Council on Ministries charged with the responsibility for the distribution of conference funds. Paragraph 831.10 j provides for the Council "to study and coordinate the budget askings of the conference agencies as they relate to the conference program" and then make recommendation to the Annual Conference Council on Finance and Administration. The Annual Conference is responsible for the total conference budget. The Annual Conference Council on Finance and Administration recommends to the Annual Conference for its action and determination both "the total amount to be apportioned for the conference benevolence budget" and "the amount or the percentage of the total of the conference benevolence budget which shall be apportioned to each cause included in the said budget." (Par. 868.2) Paragraph 870 relating to the World Service apportionment concludes: "Thedistribution of all apportionments in this paragraph shall be subject to the approval of the Annual Conference." Furthermore, Paragraph 37 of the Constitution establishes that "the Annual Conference is the basic body in the Church . . ." and the powers and functions of that body have been affirmed and reaffirmed in Judicial Council Decisions Nos. 5, 38, 78, 79, 105 and 306 inter alia. Not only is the power reserved to the Annual Conference but the Annual Conference cannot delegate its power to one of its agencies. "Under the Constitution of The Methodist Church... the Annual Conference is the 'basic' body in The Methodist Church, and is the reservoir of all powers not specifically delegated to the General Conference. "No authority is given in the Constitution of the Church for it to delegate its powers in such a manner as to deprive itself of that basic or ultimate power." Judicial Council Decision No. 38

Decision

Paragraphs 878 and 882 provide for the distribution of World Service and conference benevolences by the conference treasurer as the Annual Conference has "acted and determined." Paragraph 831.9 does not relate to the distribution of funds within an Annual Conference.

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