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Decision No. 521

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April 21 1983
In Re: Authority of Annual Conference to Approve Conference Benevolences Budget Recommendations Made by Conference Council on Ministries.

Digest of Case

At the 1982 session of the South Carolina Annual Conference, the conference Council on Ministries included in its report recommendations for allocations of conference benevolences funds to the various program agencies. The report was approved by the Annual Conference. Bishop Roy C. Clark was asked to rule on the legality of the action, on the basis of certain sections of Discipline Pars. 710 and 715, and Judicial Council Decision 400. He ruled: "the procedure followed was not in conflict with or inopposition to the paragraphs cited." In the accompanying rationale he indicated that Par. 715 and Judicial Council Decision 400 do not apply. Bishop Clark is correct in not applying Par. 715 to the present case. That paragraph relates to a different step in the process of fund distribution. He is also correct in not applying Judicial Council Decision 400, for the same reason. It should be noted, however, that the analysis by which that decision was reached is relevant in that it affirms the authority and responsibility of the Annual Conference to determine the total conference budget. It is under provisions of Par. 710 that the ruling must be reviewed. That it is the responsibility of the conference Council on Finance and Administration to make budget recommendations to the Annual Conference is made quite clear in Pars. 710 (Introductory Statement on Budgets), 710.3(a), 710.3(b)(1) and 710.3(b)(4). The question before the Judicial Council is whether or not the action of the South Carolina Annual Conference in receiving and adopting certain budget recommendations from the Council on Ministries rather than from the Council on Finance and Administration violated this provision. Copies of the reports from the two councils show that the Council on Ministries report included recommendations concerning allocations to each of the various program agencies. The Council on Finance and Administration report, adopted later in the session, included a total allocation for all program agencies, but did not list the individual agencies. Par. 710.3(b)(1) makes it the responsibility of the conference Council on Finance and Administration to establish the total amount to be recommended to the Annual Conference as the conference benevolences budget and, within that amount, the total sum to be recommended for distribution among the conference program agencies. This requirement was met. The report of the Council on Finance and Administration recommended a specific total amount for program by all agencies within that budget. Par. 710.3(b)(2) makes it the responsibility of the conference Council on Ministries to study the budget requests of the conference program agencies and to recommend to the conference Council on Finance and Administration amounts to be allocated from the conference benevolences budget to each such agency, within the total established by the conference Council on Finance and Administration. Information supplied to the Judicial Council indicates that this requirement was fulfilled. There was certainly communication between the two councils, as is evidenced by the fact that totals recommended by the two groups were the same. It is with Par. 710.3(b)(3) that difficulties begin to emerge: Before the conference benevolences budget recommendations are presented to the Annual Conference, the chairperson or other authorized representative of any conference program agency which requests it shall have the opportunity to represent the claims of that agency before the conference Council on Finance and Administration. Two things are apparent. One is that any agency in disagreement with the proposed allocation recommended by the Council on Ministries is assured the right of appeal directly to the Council on Finance and Administration. The second is that, though the Council on Ministries is to make recommendations to the Council on Finance and Administration, it is the latter group which has final responsibility for determining the amount to be recommended to the Annual Conference for allocation to each program agency. Otherwise, an appeal would have no meaning or value. Par. 710.3(b)(4) is carefully worded to reflect the desirability but not inevitability of agreement: It is the responsibility of the conference Council on Finance and Administration to present the conference benevolences budget recommendations to the Annual Conference. The recommended allocations to conference program agencies should reflect agreement between the council and the conference Council on Ministries. There should be agreement; but, agreement or not, it is finally the responsibility of the Council on Finance and Administration to present the budget recommendations to the Annual Conference. The action of the South Carolina Annual Conference falls short of Disciplinary requirements in three respects: (1) It does not protect the right of appeal by the program agencies to the Council on Finance and Administration. Instead, it provides that "program appropriations are made to the CCOM for allocation to program boards, commissions, committees, and councils following receipt of program requests from local churches and districts." (2) It does not recognize the responsibility of the Council on Finance and Administration to recommend to the Annual Conference the amounts to be allocated to each of the program agencies. Instead, authority was given to the Council on Ministries to determine those allocations. (3) By delegating to the Council on Ministries the power to set certain budget items, it fails to reserve to the Annual Conference the authority for final "action and determination" in setting the Annual Conference budget, as is provided in Par. 710, (as well as Par. 709) and as affirmed in the analysis of Judicial Council Decision 400, cited above. Various groups make recommendations to the Council on Finance and Administration, and the Council on Finance and Administration makes recommendations to the Annual Conference; but it is the Annual Conference which, by Discipline, finally determines its budget. The bishop's ruling with regard to Par. 710 is not affirmed. Leonard D. Slutz was absent.

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