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Decision No. 568

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October 23 1986
In Re: Whether Ministerial Pension Plan Section 2.1(k) and Comprehensive Protection Plan Section 2.1(g) Violate Discipline 256.3(f).

Digest of Case

The Ministerial Pension Plan section 2.1(k) and the Comprehensive Protection Plan section 2.1(g) are valid and do not violate 256.3(f).

Statement of Facts

The 1986 North Dakota Annual Conference has asked for a declaratory decision to determine whether Ministerial Pension Plan (MPP) 2.1(k) and Comprehensive Protection Plan (CPP) 2.1(g) violate Discipline 256.3(f). The MPP section 2.1(k) and the CPP section 2.1(g) provisions of the General Board of Pensions contain the following identical provision: "Plan Compensation" means for an Active Participant the sum of the following: (1) Cash salary received from Church-related sources. (2) Housing allowance; or when a parsonage is provided, 20 percent (25 percent effective on and after January 1, 1990) of the sum of the cash salary plus any tax-deferred annuity contributions in (3) below as the approximate value of that parsonage. (3) Any tax-deferred annuity contribution paid by the salary-paying unit during the year under another tax-deferred annuity program. MPP 2.1(k) "Plan Compensation" means for an Active Participant the sum of the following: (1) The cash salary received from Church-related sources. (2) Housing allowance; or when a parsonage is provided, 20 percent (25 percent effective on and after January 1, 1990) of the sum of the cash salary plus any tax-deferred annuity contributions in (3) below as the approximate value of that parsonage. (3) Any tax-deferred annuity contribution paid by the salary-paying unit during the year under another tax-deferred annuity program. CPP 2.1(g) 256.3(f) of the Discipline provides "housing shall not be considered as part of compensation or remuneration, but shall be considered as a means provided by the local church, and for the convenience of the local church, to enable its ministry and the itinerant ministry of the Annual Conference." At a hearing held at Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, on October 23, 1986 James Walton-Myers appeared on behalf of the General Board of Pensions. JURISDICTION The Judicial Council has jurisdiction under 2615 of the 1984 Discipline. ANALYSIS The Ministerial Protection Plan and the Comprehensive Protection Plan of the General Board of Pensions were adopted by the 1980 General Conference. These programs were neither amended nor changed by the 1984 General Conference and remain in force with General Conference concurrence. They do not define ministerial salaries but rather establish a formula whereby a standard of participation is maintained. In Decision No. 547, the constitutionality of 256.3 was upheld. Just because plan compensation is defined differently in MPP 2.1(k) and CPP 2.1(g) than ministerial compensation in 256.3 does not in itself make the former invalid. It is within the power of a legislative body, in this case the General Conference, when dealing with two different issues, to define the same word differently when separate circumstances, as here are involved. Although not raised directly, there is an implication in the material received from the North Dakota Conference that to have different definitions of compensation is unconstitutional. No Constitutional violation has been called to our attention nor have we found any. Any relief the petitioner seeks from the inequity it perceives most be found with the General Conference or the Annual Conference, not the Judicial Council.

Decision

The provisions of the Ministerial Protection Plan section 2.1(k) and the Comprehensive Protection Plan section 2.1(g) are not contrary to 256.3(f) or the Constitution.

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