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Decision No. 672

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May 06 1992
In Re: Interpretation of Provision in the 1988 Discipline ¶ 710.3(c) that "[t]he Term 'Conference Benevolences' Shall Not Include Allocations and Expenditures for Other Conference Agencies and Officers Whose Work Is Primarily Administrative."

Digest of Case

An Annual Conference may provide for the salary of the president of the conference United Methodist Foundation from conference benevolences so long as the work of the president is not primarily administrative, but includes other duties such as stewardship, promotion and development.

Statement of Facts

By action of the 1991 sessions of the Virginia Annual Conference, the funding for the office of the president of the United Methodist Foundation was included in the Conference Benevolences Budget. Par. 710.3(c) of the 1988 Discipline states: ". . . conference benevolences shall not include thoseconference allocations and expenditures for other conference agencies and officers whose work is primarily administrative." An episcopal decision was made by Bishop Thomas B. Stockton on the question of whether this allocation was legal. The Bishop answered in the affirmative, stating: The President of the Foundation is a staff member of the Conference Council on Ministries with duties in the office of Ordained and Diaconal Ministries as well as the executive of the Foundation. The purpose of the Foundation is to solicit, receive and administer funds for the ministry of the church. The past President of the Foundation has been involved in various stewardship training sessions, as well as assisting local churches in stewardship emphases. The new President, and consultants, will expand this ministry. Therefore, it is my opinion that the President of the Virginia Conference Foundation is engaged in ministry beyond merely administrative and that the budget of the Virginia Conference is in harmony with paragraph 710.3(c) of the Discipline. In his opinion, the bishop stated the allocation of conference benevolences to pay the salary of the president of the Virginia Conference Foundation did not violate the Discipline. We did not, however, at our October 1991 session have any information as to the actual job description of the president of the Foundation or the allocation of the president's time. Thus, we reserved our decision of the review of the bishop's ruling and retained jurisdiction until our May 1992 meeting. This was to allow us to receive further information as to the actual work of the president of the Foundation and to determine whether, in the words of the Discipline ¶ 710.3(c), the work of the president ". . . is primarily administrative." JURISDICTION The Judicial Council has jurisdiction under ¶ 2612 of the 1988 Discipline. ANALYSIS Since our October 1991 meeting we have received considerable information relative to the duties of the president of the Foundation. In by-laws adopted June 26, 1990 the job description of the president was spelled out in some detail. Contained in the job description are duties which require the president to promote stewardship throughout the Annual Conference; to engage in marketing, public relations and promotions on behalf of the Foundation; and to assist in the management of Foundation assets. It is apparent the work of the president of the Foundation is not "primarily administrative." Thus, the bishop is correct in his ruling; the support of the president of the United Methodist Foundation is properly included in conference benevolences; and there is no violation of 1988 Discipline ¶ 710.3(c). We feel compelled to observe, however, that while the method chosen by the Virginia Conference to fund the president of the Foundation is not a technical violation of the 1988 Discipline we question the use of conference benevolences for this purpose. Great care needs to be used by Annual Conferences in designating allocations and expenditures as conference benevolences. It may well be that another source of conference funding would be more appropriate for the chief executive officer of a United Methodist foundation. Great care also needs to be used in the language of foundation charters; e.g., the Virginia Foundation might wish to review the language of its charter to make certain it is broad enough to authorize the job description of the president.

Decision

An Annual Conference may provide for the salary of the president of the conference United Methodist Foundation from conference benevolences so long as the work of the president is not primarily administrative, but includes other duties such as stewardship, promotion, and development.

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