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Decision No. 707

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April 28 1994
In Re: Review of Bishop's Decision of Law in the Wyoming Conference ConcerningLegality of Direct Billing of Health Insurance Premiums to Each Local Church.

Digest of Case

The Judicial Council affirms Bishop William Boyd Grove's ruling that the Wyoming Conference Health Insurance Plan, adopted on June 9, 1993, does not violate Par. 2510 of the Discipline. Neither does it violate Par. 704.2 which reads "An Annual Conference cannot financially obligate any organizational unit of the United Methodist Church except itself."

Statement of Facts

On June 9,1993, the Wyoming Annual Conference (Albany Area) session adopted a Health Insurance Plan. In writing, Bishop William Boyd Grove was asked to rule on whether or not Par. 2510 or the 1992 Discipline was violated by section II-B of the Wyoming Conference Health Insurance Plan. The Insurance Plan II-B provides for direct billing of monthly premiums to each local church and states: The remaining share of monthly premium due will be direct billed to each local church. This amount shall be calculated using the F.S.R. (financial strength ratio) formula. Payments shall be due and payable by the 28th of the month in the month billed. Bishop William Boyd Grove was asked to rule on the question: Does the direct billing of health insurance premiums to the local church as stated in the Health Insurance Committee recommendations (Section II, Item B) violate The Book of Discipline, Paragraph 2510, which states that "no Conference Council, Board, Agency, Local Church, or other unit can financially obligate the denomination, or without prior consent, any other organizational unit thereof." (Note: The request for a ruling as submitted misstated the text of Paragraph2510 but is nonetheless clear in its intention.) Bishop Grove ruled that the Wyoming Conference Health Insurance Plan, adopted on June 9, 1993, does not violate Paragraph 2510 of the Discipline. Neither does it violate Paragraph 704.2 which reads "An Annual Conference cannot financially obligate any organizational unit of The United Methodist Church except itself." JURISDICTION The Judicial Council has jurisdiction under Par. 2613 of the 1992 Discipline . ANALYSIS The Constitution in Par. 36 of the 1992 Discipline states: The Annual Conference is the basic body in the Church... It shall discharge such duties and exercise such powers as the General Conference under the Constitution may determine. The Annual Conference has the authority and responsibility to provide for the clergy support. In the case at hand the Wyoming Annual Conference adopted a specific method of funding this obligation. This method is no different from other authorized obligations which are funded through apportionments to local churches. The allocation was based on a formula which is not in question. Neither did the Judicial Council consider whether the recommendation should have been approved by the Conference Council on Finance and Administration since it was not included in the request for a ruling.

Decision

The Judicial Council affirms Bishop William Boyd Grove's ruling that the Wyoming Conference Health Insurance Plan, adopted on June 9, 1993, does not violate Par. 2510 of the Discipline. Neither does it violate Par. 704.2 which reads "An Annual Conference cannot financially obligate any organizational unit of The United Methodist Church except itself."

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