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Decision No. 608

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October 27 1988
In Re: Review of Ruling by Bishop David J. Lawson Concerning Finance and Budget Plan in the Wisconsin Annual Conference.

Digest of Case

The ruling of Bishop David J. Lawson, with regard to Category Budgeting as a means of presenting a two-year budget, is reversed.

Statement of Facts

The Wisconsin Annual Conference, in session on June 4, 1988, requested an episcopal ruling on a question of church law: Category Budgeting, which would mean the approval of block grants instead of specific line items in light of Council Decisions 582, 521, and 539? The Wisconsin Conference approved a "Resolution on Category Budgeting". The Conference resolved that "effective with the budget presented at the 1989 Conference Session, Categorical Budgeting be instituted as the means of presenting a two-year budget and ... BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that budget line items shall be developed and presented by the program agencies to the Conference Council on Ministries, and by all agencies to the Council on Finance and Administration, as the basis for planning and evaluation, and; BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Council on Finance and Administration shall develop and present the resulting categorical budget to the Annual Conference for its approval, and; BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that agencies be empowered, during the budget period, to adjust expenditures within each budget category, and; BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that this resolution be referred to the Council on Finance and Administration for implementation. In response to the request for a ruling by Bishop David J. Lawson, the bishop stated, "It is judged that the Wisconsin Annual Conference decision to approve Category Budgets with allocation made to conference agencies/causes is not in violation of either the provisions of the Book of Discipline or past Judicial Council decisions." JURISDICTION The Judicial Council has jurisdiction under  2611 of the 1984 Discipline. ANALYSIS The CCFA recommends to an Annual Conference a budget for the ensuing year. This is approved by an Annual Conference which, in principle, cannot bind another Annual Conference, for with the passing of each year, there is potential for change in leadership and membership. There is no provision for a two-year budget, and the Wisconsin Annual Conference supports this view by stating that the view the Conference would need to review the second year. It is impossible to review what is not legally before the Conference. Guidelines may be presented to an Annual Conference suggesting projected budget increases but would need to be brought into action and reflected in budgets recommended by the CCFA. The CCFA to meet its responsibility, must present annually budget recommendations to the Annual Conference. It is not in the spirit of the Discipline to present anything other than an annual budget for annual acceptance or rejection. This matter is addressed in Memorandum 582 concerning the request of the Wisconsin Annual Conference.

Decision

The ruling of Bishop David J. Lawson, with regard to Category Budgeting as a means of presenting a two-year budget, is reversed.

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