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Decision No. 518

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October 29 1982
In Re: Meaning, Application and Effect of Discipline Par. 817 on Disbursement of Funds by the National Division of the General Board of Global Ministries to an Organization in Holmes County, Mississippi.

Digest of Case

The General Board of Global Ministries was in violation of Par. 817 since it did not consult with the bishop and the Council on Ministries of the North Mississippi Conference before disbursing funds for a program within the conference.

Statement of Facts

The North Mississippi Annual Conference, in its meeting June 3, 1982, without a negative vote, adopted a resolution petitioning the Judicial Council to make a declaratory decision as to the "application, and effect" of Par. 817 of the Discipline with regard to the disbursement of funds in Holmes County, Mississippi by the National Division of the General Board of Global Ministries "without proper consultation with the bishop or the Director of the Conference Council on Ministries". The funds were disbursed in two parts: $3000 to the National Campaign tofree Mayor Eddie J. Carthan and the Tchula Seven; $8000 was later disbursed to the United League of Holmes County. On October 13, 1981, prior to the first disbursement, the Executive Group of the National Division of the Board of Global Ministries approved the grant of $3000 "subject to the satisfactory conclusion of consultation with the bishop and other local leadership". Between that time and December 18, 1981, the Division reports that a staff person talked with various persons including the District Superintendent and the Administrative Assistant to the resident bishop. On December 18, 1981 a check was issued from the National Division to the National Campaign to Free Mayor Eddie J. Carthan and the Tchula Seven. On February 25, 1982 a request for a grant of $8000 was received from the United League of Holmes County. The purpose of the grant was to aid in providing an organizer to aid in carrying out the United League's commitment to the education and protection of black political rights in the State of Mississippi, including further activities on the Eddie J. Carthan case. Sometime thereafter a United Methodist Voluntary Service staff person met with the resident bishop and three pastors from the Mississippi area. On April 12, 1982, $8000 was disbursed to support an organizer to work in the League's Tchula, Mississippi office on the Eddie J. Carthan case and other issues of racial injustice. Oral hearings were held October 28, 1982 with appearances by Bishop C. J. Minnick, E. S. Furr and Charles Duke representing the North Mississippi Conference and Attorney John Stumbo representing the Board of Global Ministries. JURISDICTION The Judicial Council has jurisdiction under Par. 2615 of the 1980 Discipline. ANALYSIS The issue at hand is interpreting the meaning of Par. 817 of the Discipline regarding required procedures when a general agency proposes to use general funds for a program within an Annual Conference. Par. 817 reads: All general funds administered by any general agency of The United Methodist Church which are proposed to be used for funding a program within an Annual Conference shall be disbursed after consultation with the presiding bishop and the Council on Ministries of that Annual Conference. This paragraph deals with the expenditure of general funds by any general agency of the church. The procedures set forth apply only when general funds to be disbursed are for a program within an Annual Conference. In such cases the funds shall be disbursed only after consultation with the presiding bishop and the Council on Ministries of that Annual Conference. Here both parties agree that general funds were used and therefore Par. 817 is applicable as to the source of the funding involved. We interpret Par. 817 to mean the funding of program activities dealing with issues, needs, concerns, and persons within the geographic bounds of the Annual Conference. Even though the two organizations being funded by the General Board of Global Ministries in this case are also receiving funding nationally and the issues addressed do have broad implications, both "The National Campaign to Free Mayor Eddie J. Carthan and, the Tchula Seven, to preserve Black Political Rights" and "The United League of Holmes County" focus their basic programs and activities upon specific issues and persons in Holmes County, Mississippi. Since the primary actions and programs take place within the bounds of the North Mississippi Conference and affect its ongoing life, we hold that the required disciplinary procedures for funding "a program within an Annual Conference" are applicable to the General Board of Global Ministries in this situation. Par. 817 deals with a process for maintaining the connectional system to fund programs within an Annual Conference through establishing communication between General Boards and the Annual Conferences. It requires that "funding for a program within an Annual Conference shall be disbursed after consultation with the presiding bishop and the Council on Ministries of that Annual Conference." Judicial Council Decision 101 defined the word consultation as "an exchange of ideas even though they may not be in agreement." It requires discussion in advance of decision-making. Par. 817 does not require the approval of the bishop or the Conference Council on Ministries regarding the funding of a proposed program but it does require that no funds be disbursed until such consultations are held or the opportunity for such consultation is given and the parties have had an opportunity to respond. The Board of Global Ministries states that it sent a staff person to Mississippi who conferred with the Bishop's Administrative Assistant and others prior to disbursing of $3000 on December 18, 1981 to the National Campaign to Free Mayor Eddie J. Carthan and the Tchula Seven. The General Board later sent a staff person to Mississippi who talked with the bishop and others before sending $8000 to the United League of Holmes County on April 12, 1982. We have no record of these conversations, but it is reported that they dealt with the subject of freeing Eddie J. Carthan, and the work of the United League of Holmes County. There is no indication that funding was discussed. Therefore those meetings could not qualify as consultation, as defined above, with the presiding bishop. Evidence indicates that there was no consultation either with the Conference Council on Ministries or its Director previous to the distribution of funds. Par. 817 is applicable to this situation and we conclude that the General Board of Global Ministries did not consult with the bishop nor the Conference Council on Ministries of the North Mississippi Conference prior to disbursing the funds. The General Board of Global Ministries therefore was in violation of Par. 817.

Decision

The General Board of Global Ministries was in violation of Par. 817 since it did not consult with the bishop and the Council on Ministries of the North Mississippi Conference before disbursing funds for a program within the conference.

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