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Decision No. 818

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April 24 1998
In Re: Review of Decision of Law of Bishop Kenneth L. Carder in the Memphis Annual Conference on the Legality of the Conference Practice Imposing a Cap on the Percentage of Change of Apportionments to the Local Church Which May Result in Less than 100% of the Conference Budget Being Apportioned to the Churches of the Conference.

Digest of Case

To the extent that the caps reduce the General Conference apportionments among the Memphis Annual Conference churches, the use of caps is illegal and should be adjusted accordingly. (¶ 811.5). Also, the use of caps is improper to the extent it prevents the apportionment of the full Annual Conference budget among local churches. The ruling of the bishop is affirmed.

Statement of Facts

During the report of the Council on Finance and Administration of the 1997 Memphis Annual Conference at a regular business session, a clergy member requested in writing a ruling on the legality of the apportionment method followed by the Memphis Annual Conference related to the conference practice of imposing a cap on the percentage of the apportionment charged to an individual church from year to year. The net effect of the cap has been to assign less than 100% of the Conference budget to the Conference churches. John G. Corry recused himself and did not participate in any of the preceedings related to this decision. Jurisdiction The Judicial Council has jurisdiction under ¶ 2613 of the 1996 Discipline. Analysis and Rationale Par. 612 gives the Annual Conference authority to determine, upon recommendation of the Conference Council on Finance and Administration, "the methods or formulas by which the approved budgeted amounts for ... apportioned causes shall be apportioned to the districts, churches, or charges of the conference." It is further provided that these amounts may be apportioned "by whatever method the conference may direct, but without reduction." Memorandum 666 deals with the legality of selective adjustments in the apportionments to local churches. In this Memorandum the bishop was affirmed in the ruling: Once it has received from the General Council on Finance and Administration the amounts of the general funds apportioned to the annual conferences, the conference must apportion the same to the churches without reduction (as indicated in ¶ 711.1 of 1992 Discipline). However, the annual conference may develop an apportionment formula which will raise the amount in full and which could enable local churches facing financial problems to be addressed through an apportionment review program. There is nothing to prevent an Annual Conference from including in its apportionment formula a procedure whereby the Conference Council on Finance and Administration may conduct a review of a local church's finances and make an adjustment in that church's apportionments, so long as the total amount apportioned within that conference for general fund askings is not reduced below the amount apportioned to the conference by the General Council on Finance and Administration. In this case the bishop of the Memphis Annual Conference ruled : Based upon the applicable language in the Discipline and the relevant Judicial Memorandum (666), the use of caps to adjust individual church’s apportionments does not violate the Discipline unless the effect of the caps is to reduce the apportionment of the General Conference obligations among the churches of the annual conference. To the extent that the caps reduce the General Conference apportionments among the Memphis Annual Conference churches, the use of caps is illegal and should be adjusted accordingly. (¶ 811.5). Also, the use of caps is improper to the extent it prevents the apportionment of the full Annual Conference budget among local churches.

Decision

To the extent that the caps reduce the General Conference apportionments among the Memphis Annual Conference churches, the use of caps is illegal and should be adjusted accordingly. (¶ 811.5). Also, the use of caps is improper to the extent it prevents the apportionment of the full Annual Conference budget among local churches. The ruling of the bishop is affirmed. This copy subject to final editing and correction.

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