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Decision No. 649

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April 25 1991
In Re: Constitutionality of ¶¶ 737.4(d) and (e) of the 1988 Discipline.

Digest of Case

An Annual Conference shall develop a pension and benefit program requiring proportional payment in keeping with ¶ 737.4 including a provision that the pastor's pension shall be subject to reduction if proportional payment is not made.

Statement of Facts

The College of Bishops of the Southeastern Jurisdiction submitted a request to the Judicial Council for a Declaratory Decision relative to ¶ 737.4(e) of the 1988 Discipline of The United Methodist Church. The Kentucky Annual Conference in session at Wilmore, Kentucky on June 6, 1990 forwarded a question from the Board of Pensions of the Kentucky Annual Conference stating, The Board of Pensions of the Kentucky Annual Conference meeting on February 3, 1990 voted unanimously for the Kentucky Annual Conference to request a declaratory decision from the Judicial Council relative to the constitutionality of ¶ 737.4(d) of the 1988 Book of Discipline, United Methodist Church. JURISDICTION The Judicial Council has jurisdiction under Par. 2615 of the 1988 Discipline. ANALYSIS The questions raised by these requests arise out of ¶¶ 737.4(d) and (e) of the 1988 Discipline which states, "On retirement, the amount that a pastor is in default shall be subject to deduction from the pastor's pension, in accordance with rules and regulations of the specific program or programs under which the pension is provided." This question has been ruled on a number of times by the Judicial Council. We refer to Decisions 50, 90, and more particularly to 401 and 471. The Judicial Council has consistently held that an Annual Conference is acting within its constitutional and legislative authority in determining that 737.4 and predecessor paragraphs in other editions of the Discipline do apply against the pension credit of a minister serving a church which fails to pay the portion of pension and benefits program adopted by the Annual Conference. The language of the Discipline in this instance is mandatory.

Decision

An Annual Conference has the constitutional and legislative mandate to develop a pension and benefit program requiring proportional payment in keeping with ¶ 737.4 including a provision that the pastor's pension shall be subject to reduction if proportional payment is not made.

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