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Decision No. 792

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October 24 1996
In Re: Referral from General Conference on the Conflict of the Adoption of Amendments to ¶ 441 of the 1992 Discipline with ¶¶ 248 and 720 Which Delegate to the Charge Conference the Authority to Set the Pastor’s Salary.

Digest of Case

The 1996 General Conference addition to ¶ 441 of the 1992 Discipline, providing for an alternative salary compensation program as an option to the process described in ¶. 248.13 and ¶ 720 is a violation of the Discipline in that it takes away powers granted to the Charge Conference in ¶ 248.13 and ¶ 720.

Statement of Facts

Par. 441 of the 1992 Discipline deals with support of ordained ministers appointed to a pastoral charge: Support for Ordained Ministers Appointed to a Pastoral Charge.—Assumption of the obligations of the itinerant ministry required upon admission to the traveling connection places upon the Church a counter obligation to provide adequate support for the entire ministry of the Church (¶ 717). The Church shall provide and the ordained minister is entitled to receive not less than the equitable compensation established by the Annual Conference for clergy members according to provisions of ¶ 722.3. As noted in the April 27, 1996 Daily Edition Volume 3, No. 11 of the Daily Christian Advocate (DCA), page 853, the 1996 General Conference added a new sentence at the end of the first paragraph of ¶ 441: The Annual Conference may determine, for its clergy members, an alternative salary compensation program as an option to the process described in ¶ 248.13 and ¶ 720. In presenting petition No. 20298 the legislative committee stated that the committee considered the addition to ¶ 441 permissive legislation and felt that the decision should be left to each Annual Conference. General Conference approved the addition. Question was raised as to whether the addition to ¶ 441 takes away the local church authority to set the salary. A motion was approved for an appeal for a ruling by the Judicial Council. Par. 248 of the 1992 Discipline relates to the powers and duties of Charge Conference in connection with this matter of the pastor’s salary. ¶ 248.13 states: The Charge Conference shall in consultation with the district superintendent set the compensation of the pastor and other staff appointed by the bishop. Par. 720 of the 1992 Discipline states: The several Charge Conferences shall determine the pastors’ base compensation according to the provisions of ¶ 248.13. Jurisdiction The Judicial Council has jurisdiction under ¶ 2609 of the 1992 Discipline. Analysis and Rationale Decisions 213, 252 and 461 relate to the question of a clergy salary plan. Decision 252 states: In Decision No. 213 we held that "the authority to fix the salary and other compensation of the pastor rests solely with the Quarterly Conference." In the same decision the Judicial Council pointed out that "the Annual Conference has disciplinary authority to make its own procedural rules but in doing so may not invade the authority granted to other bodies by the Constitution or by the legislation of the General Conference." Decision 252 specifically cites reimbursement for travel expense: It is the decision of the Judicial Council that an Annual Conference is without disciplinary authority to place a limit upon the amount which may be allowed by a Quarterly Conference as reimbursement for travel expense for its pastor or pastors. In Decision 461, the Judicial Council cited five disciplinary paragraphs which it felt conflicted with the new Compensation Plan adopted by the Western Pennsylvania Annual Conference. Each of these cited paragraphs is still in the 1992 Discipline and remains in the 1996 Discipline. The Judicial Council also noted that the plan adopted by the Western Pennsylvania Annual Conference sought to establish a "Basic Salary Plan," the authority for which had been deleted by the action of the 1976 General Conference. The Judicial Council decision stated: Except as qualified by ¶ 934 of the Discipline, the Annual Conference is without authority either to fix or to pay the salaries of the ministers of local charges. The General Conference has not spoken clearly on the issue of an alternative salary compensation program for two conflicting actions were passed by the 1996 General Conference. The chair of the Financial Administration Committee, placed before the General Conference calendar item 1683 or petition 20499 dealing with a shared salary option found on page 387 of the blue DCA. The recommendation from the Financial Administration Committee was for nonconcurrence by a vote of 62 for, 16 against, 2 abstentions. After considerable debate, the recommendation for nonconcurrence was approved by a vote of 676 for and 226 against. Finally, the 1996 General Conference debate on ¶ 441 described the addition as permissive legislation, which would grant authority to the Annual Conference to determine an alternate salary compensation program as an option to the current process of ¶ 248.13 and ¶ 720. The addition states: "The Annual Conference may determine, for its clergy members, an alternative salary compensation program as an option to the process described in ¶ 248.13 and ¶ 720." This 1996 legislative addition to ¶ 441 is in violation of the Discipline in that it takes away powers granted the Charge Conference in ¶ 248.13 and ¶ 720. See also ¶ 46: There shall be organized in each charge a Charge Conference composed of such persons and invested with such powers as the General Conference shall provide. Par. 248.1 clearly defines the Charge Conference as "the connecting link between the local church and the general Church. . . ." Hence, under ¶ 15 it is stated that the General Conference ". . . shall have full legislative power over all matters distinctively connectional . . . ." Under Section 3 of ¶ 15 the General Conference is specifically given power to "...define and fix the powers and duties ...of Charge Conference...." The 1996 General Conference did not modify the powers granted to the Charge Conference in Pars. 248.13 and 720. Further, the General Conference did not alter the Constitution in Pars. 15 and 46 in regard to these powers granted the Charge Conference.

Decision

The 1996 General Conference addition to ¶ 441 of the 1992 Discipline, providing for an alternative salary compensation program as an option to the process described in ¶ 248.13 and ¶ 720 is a violation of the Discipline in that it takes away powers granted to the Charge Conference in ¶ 248.13 and ¶ 720.

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