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Decision No. 647

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October 24 1990
In Re: Consolidated Petitions for a Declaratory Decision Concerning 709.6, 710.3(a), 710.3(b)(1), 710.3(b)(3), 710.3(d), 715.2(b) and Their Effect on an Annual Conference.

Digest of Case

The Annual Conference has the power to authorize the Council on Finance and Administration,  710.3, to establish and present to the Annual Conference a budget for Conference Benevolences. The fund for World Service and Conference Benevolences is the combination of two funds and requested from the local church as a one-fund apportioned item, but the Council on Finance and Administration shall recommend a percentage for each fund accordingly. The unused balance of Conference Benevolences need not be applied to World Service. The only responsibility the Conference has for paying that fund is to remit to the general church the amount paid by the local churches. The Annual Conference may apply the unused balance of Conference Benevolences to a Conference Reserve Fund if such fund is approved by the Annual Conference.

Statement of Facts

The 1990 Florida Annual Conference has submitted four requests for declaratory decisions which concern the effect of the Discipline on its financial procedures contained in the Conference Standing Rules. The first request questions whether the Annual Conference can give authority to its Council on Finance and Administration to determine expenditures when there is a budgetary shortfall. The second request asks whether the World Service and Conference Benevolences is one or two funds apportioned together with the Annual Conference controlling the use of Conference Benevolences. The third request asks whether the unused year-end balance in the Conference Benevolences must be applied to World Service. The fourth request questions whether the Annual Conference may direct the unused year-end balance of the Conference Benevolences budget be placed in a Conference Reserve Fund. Present for an open hearing before the Judicial Council on October 24, 1990, in Denver, Colorado were Larry B. Lake, B. Hugh Lake, Jr., Bishop H. Hasbrouck Hughes, Jr., Barbara Williams Riddle, Beverley C. Berry, Robert Bledsoe, and Craig Hoskins. JURISDICTION The Judicial Council has jurisdiction under  2615. ANALYSIS I Par. 709.1 confers the responsibility upon the Conference Council on Finance and Administration to recommend to the Annual Conference budgets of anticipated income and expenditures. Par. 709.6 confers an additional responsibility upon that agency to recommend procedures by which the Annual Conference can address a budget shortfall or other problems that could not be anticipated. The Annual Conference enacted Standing Rule VIII.C which authorizes the Conference Council on Finance and Administration and the Treasurer as the agents to implement the conference policy for a shortfall. Neither the Council on Finance and Administration nor Treasurer has arrogated this position to administer the Annual Conference policy. The Annual Conference adopted the legislation which establishes the formula to be used by the two entities; no discretion is lodged with either the Council or Treasurer. It is inconceivable by all principles of stewardship that the Annual Conference would have to be called into session to deal with every budget crisis. Standing Rule VIII.C does not conflict with  709.6. II The question asked is whether World Service and Conference Benevolences is one fund or two funds apportioned together with the Annual Conference controlling the use of Conference Benevolences within disciplinary provisions, and whether the unused year-end balance in Conference Benevolences must be applied to World Service. It is clear that World Service and Conference Benevolences are two funds combined into one apportioned item with the percentage determined for each accordingly. The Annual Conference acted with legal responsibility and authority based on  709.6: To recommend to the Annual Conference for its action and decision procedures for dealing responsibly with situations in which budgeted funds, as approved by the Annual Conference, are inadequate to meet emerging missional needs or unforeseen circumstances. This is a provision, with Annual Conference approval, to provide for unforeseen circumstances. Standing Rule VIII.F is in harmony with the Discipline. III The Discipline requires the transmittal of proceeds that exceed the share designated for World Service but it does not contain a similar provision for Conference Benevolences. The Discipline is also silent on the issue of income generated from these funds. The absence of General Conference Legislation means that the Annual Conference is not restricted in using the excess proceeds from that fund towards any cause. IV As indicated earlier, the Discipline does not impose any restrictions on the use of excess Conference Benevolences funds. Therefore, the Annual Conference may direct the unused year-end balances be placed in a Conference Reserve Fund.

Decision

The Annual Conference has the power to authorize the Council on Finance and Administration,  710.3, to establish and present to the Annual Conference a budget for Conference Benevolences. The fund for World Service and Conference Benevolences is the combination of two funds and requested from the local church as a one-fund apportioned item, but the Council on Finance and Administration shall establish a percentage for each fund accordingly. The unused balance of Conference Benevolences need not be applied to World Service. The only responsibility the Conference has for paying that fund is to remit to the general church the amount paid by the local churches. The Annual Conference may apply the unused balance of Conference Benevolences to a Conference Reserve Fund if such fund is approved by the Annual Conference.

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