Skip Navigation

Judicial Council Decisions Search


Decision No. 510

Back to Search

October 29 1982
In Re: Housing Allowances for Members of a Clergy Couple

Digest of Case

Under the specific facts in this case a member of a clergy couple may not be deprived of a housing allowance even though the other member of the clergy couple has access to a parsonage.

Statement of Facts

At the Annual Conference session in June 1982, the West Virginia Annual Conference Board of Higher Education and Campus Ministry requested the Bishop to rule on three questions. 1. Whether a member of a clergy couple is entitled to a housing allowance, if the other member of a clergy couple has access to a parsonage. 2. Whether a division or a board can adjust or withhold a housing payment when one member of a clergy couple has access to a parsonage. 3. Whether a housing allowance is considered a part of a salary package. The Bishop ruled that in this case one member is entitled to a housing allowance even though the other member of the clergy couple has access to a parsonage. He also ruled that the division cannot withhold the housing allowance as it is considered a part of a salary package. The Annual Conference then voted to appeal the Bishop's decision to the Judicial Council. These issues arose from the appointment of one member of a clergy couple to serve a local church and the other to serve as a campus minister. The local church provided a parsonage and the Division of Campus Ministry, which previously had provided a housing allowance, subsequently withheld payment. In the West Virginia Conference, each minister appointed within the Conference, whose salary and support is funded through the conference budget, is provided a parsonage or housing allowance. Beverly Kerr, Bishop William Boyd Grove and Janice Riggle Huie appeared at an oral hearing on October 28, 1982. JURISDICTION The Judicial Council has jurisdiction under Par. 2611 of the 1980 Discipline. ANALYSIS The basic issue is whether a member of a clergy couple is entitled to a housing allowance if the other member has access to a parsonage. The other issues regarding whether such housing payment can be withheld by a board or division, and whether a housing allowance is considered a part of a salary package, are rooted in the prior issue. The Judicial Council in Decisions 317, 433 and 442 has stated that Par. 15.14 of the Constitution which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race or status includes discrimination on the basis of marital status. In this case a clergy member was deprived of a housing allowance which had been paid to the previous person in the same appointment only because that member is married to a clergy person who has access to a parsonage. This is discrimination on the basis of marital status. Whether a housing allowance is considered part of the salary package is dependent on the rules or customs of the conference. We are not considering the housing allowance for a local pastor, which is mandated in Par. 255.3(f), but a housing allowance for a person under appointment beyond the local church. In this case Bishop Grove has stated that other clergy persons in the conference are given housing allowances as cash grants for which no proof of use is required. This indicates that the conference does include housing allowance as part of the ministerial support package. In addition, the housing allowance was in the budget of the Division at the time of appointment and later withdrawn. The allowance would have been paid to a minister in the same appointment if that person did not have access to a parsonage. Therefore, the allowance must be paid to one who does have such access because of marital status, or else that status has become a means of discrimination.

Decision

The Bishop's ruling is upheld. Under the specific facts in this case a member of a clergy couple may not be deprived of a housing allowance even though the other member of the clergy couple has access to a parsonage.

Back to Search