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Decision No. 587

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October 22 1987
In Re: Minimum Salary Policies and Procedures in the New Hampshire Conference.

Digest of Case

At the 1987 session of the New Hampshire Annual Conference John A. and Priscilla R. MacDougall presented a written request to Presiding Bishop George W. Bashore to make rulings on 14 asserted statements of fact and/or church law. The ultimate request was for a ruling that, as full members of the conference with a full-time appointment within the meaning of 436.1 of the 1984 Discipline, the petitioners were entitled as a matter of right to receive not less than minimum salary established by the Annual Conference for persons in full-time service, which entitlement was a responsibility of the Annual Conference and the Conference Council on Finance and Administration. The response or ruling of the Bishop was simply: "I am ready to verify thevalidity of the principles listed in the 15 (sic) principles." We take this to be an affirmative ruling on each assertion of fact and/or law contained in the written request. The ruling came before the Judicial Council for review as provided in 2612 of the 1984 Discipline. The length of the request and the variety of matters included make it difficult for the Judicial Council to determine the facts in every instance. Many of the items, for example, refer at least in part to factual matters of conference membership, records, or rules, dates of actions, correspondence, or payments, and internal decisions of groups about which the Judicial Council lacks direct knowledge. It does not appear that such details are at issue in this case. It does appear that the central issue is the authority of an Annual Conference or its Commission on Equitable Salaries to adopt policies or guidelines which would prevent a full member of that Annual Conference from receiving the minimum salary which has been adopted by the Conference. We address only this issue. Such a policy or practice would be in violation of 442.1 and 722.9 of the 1984 Discipline. Judicial Council Decision No. 579 states that "it is the duty of the Annual Conference to establish its own guidelines for payment of equitable salaries but these guidelines cannot establish a minimum salary and then provide the means by which that conference can avoid paying that minimum to persons in full connection ... Every minister in good standing is entitled to the basic minimum salary as established by the Annual Conference." The ruling of the bishop sustaining this principle is affirmed.

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