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Decision No. 947

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October 24 2002
In Re: Review of Bishop’s Decision of Law in the Rocky Mountain Annual Conference Related to the Necessity of Printing the Entire Budget in the Conference Journal and to the Legality of Certain Processes and Portions of the Annual Conference Budget.

Digest of Case

Bishop Warner H. Brown, Jr. is affirmed in his decision with respect to Question 1 regarding the inclusion of the annual conference budget in the conference journal. The bishop is not affirmed with respect to Question 2 concerning the presentation of a budget line item that combined district superintendent compensatory items with other conference staff. In presenting the compensatory items for district superintendents, such petitions must include all expenses, including staff and office. The bishop is not affirmed with respect to Question 3 in that the conference budget must include all anticipated income, including estimates of apportionments.

Statement of Facts

During the May 30- June 1 session of the 2002 Rocky Mountain Annual Conference three questions of law were written and properly submitted to Bishop Warner H. Brown, Jr. requesting decisions of law. The questions were: Does the Discipline require the budget to be printed in the Journal? Does Petition O2-B (Petition to the 2002 Rocky Mountain Annual Conference, Titled Conference Leadership Compensation.) as presented by the Council on Finance and Administration violate the Discipline by including the Director of Mission and Ministry, the Director of New and Ethnic Ministries, and the Director of Support Services, Treasurer along with recommendations of support of the District Superintendents? Did the Council on Finance and Administration present a proper budget to the Annual Conference? The bishop provided his decisions of law on June 30, 2002, in accordance with ¶ 2609.6 of the 2000 Discipline requiring bishops to make such rulings within 30 days after the close of the annual conference session. Bishop Brown’s responses to the questions of law are as follows: The Annual Conference is not required to print its complete budget in the Conference Journal. Petition AC02 as adopted by the 2002 session of the Rocky Mountain Conference is consistent with paragraph 612 (2000 Discipline). 3. The budget presentation at the 2002 session of the Rocky Mountain Conference is not defective. Sally Brown Geis recused herself and did not participate in any discussion pertaining to this matter. The Judicial Council has jurisdiction under ¶ 2609. 6 of The 2000 Discipline. IS THERE A DISCIPLINARY REQUIREMENT THAT THE CONFERENCE BUDGET BE PRINTED IN THE JOURNAL? Paragraph 606 of the 2000 Discipline requires “[t]he annual conference to keep and exact record of its proceedings according to the forms provided by the general, jurisdictional and central conferences.” Within this requirement there are particular divisions that are mandatory with respect to the contents and order of the annual conference journal. The contents and arrangement of the conference journal are: Officers of annual conference, Boards commissions, committees; rolls of conference members, Daily proceedings, Business of the annual conference report (formerly known as the disciplinary questions), Appointments, Reports as ordered by the annual conference, Memoirs as ordered by the annual conference, Roll of the Dead-deceased clergy members, Historical, Miscellaneous, Pastoral record (including the records of accepted local pastors in such manners as the conference may determine), Statistics, Index. Paragraph 606 also outlines the parameters under which the annual conference functions in relation to the recording of annual conference sessions. In particular the annual conference is required to publish and order the journal as it is prescribed by ¶ 606. However with respect to ¶ 606(3)(f) and (g) it states that the reports and memoirs are to be included “as ordered by the annual conference.” The only requirement that is specified with respect to the treasurer’s report and the secretarial and statistical records is that they are maintained in accordance with forms that are provided by the General Council on Finance and Administration. Paragraph 604. 1 of the 2000 Discipline authorizes annual conferences to “adopt rules and regulations not in not conflict with the Discipline … .” Inasmuch as the annual conference is required to keep an exact record of proceedings the only form that is provided by the General Conference is the format that is provided by the General Council on Finance and Administration. “Part I. Organization and General Business of the Annual Conference Form” provides the format that annual conferences are required to follow in reporting their proceedings. The form provides for the treasurer’s report to be included with the documentation that is to be provided for the General Council on Finance and Administration. The form also requires the annual conference to provide the apportionment breakdown for the ensuing year inclusive of the World Service Fund, The Ministerial Fund, The Black College Fund, The Africa University Fund, The Episcopal Fund, The General Administration Fund and the Interdenominational Fund. There is, however, no requirement within these guidelines that states that the budget must be entered into the journal of the annual conference. The sole requirement that is stipulated in ¶ 612 is that the council on finance and administration is to “recommend to the annual conference, for its action and determination, budgets of anticipated income and proposed expenditures for all funds to be apportioned to the churches, charges or districts. ¶ 606. (3)(f) should be interpreted to mean, as it relates to reports, it is within the discretion of the annual conference to determine the manner in which reports are to appear in the journal. The annual conference has the authority to require that the budget is published in the journal but there is no such requirement absent annual conference action. The proper interpretation is that the annual conference is given authority to order the way in which reports are to appear in the conference journal. In Decision 608 the Judicial Council said that for “[t]he CCFA to meet its responsibility must present annually budget recommendations to the Annual Conference.” From the material we have reviewed there is no explicit duty established requiring the publication of annual conference budgets in the conference journal. The bishop is affirmed in his decision of law with respect to the publication of the budget in the conference journal. Although the conference is not required to publish the budget in the conference journal, best practices would suggest that it do so. DOES ACO2 EXCEED THE BOUNDARIES DEFINED IN PARAGRAPH 612.1 OF THE 2000 DISCIPLINE FOR THE SETTING OF SUFFICIENT AND EQUITABLE SUPPORT FOR THE DISTRICT SUPERINTENDENTS BY INCLUDING WITHIN THE PETITION PERSONS WHO ARE NOT DISTRICT SUPERINTENDENTS? Paragraph 612.6 states that the conference council on finance and administration is required to make its budget recommendations in accordance with the guidelines that are suggested by the General Council on Finance and Administration. In the format that is provided by the General Council on Finance and Administration there are provisions made for projected expenditures inclusive of a category for clergy support. The form provided by the General Council on Finance and Administration creates a separate category for district superintendent budget items. This category is inclusive of base compensation, fringe benefits, travel, staff, office and housing expenses. No other staff, inclusive of lay or clergy, is included in this framework. The listing of other conference staff, who are not in the district superintendent staff category, gives the impression that all of these staff persons are at the same compensation levels. In order to avoid this possibility The General Council on Finance and Administration has devised a form that establishes a budget category that only addresses district superintendent compensation and expenses. Other staff, outside of district superintendent staff is not to be included in this category. In Memorandum 551 the Judicial Council addressed the role of the conference council on finance and administration. There we determined that “the Council on Finance and Administration occupies a strategic position as one of two major councils of the annual of the Annual Conference. As a result, its reports come to the conference cloaked in the mantle of authority… .” The manner in which this budget item was presented to the Rocky Mountain Annual Conference is both confusing and contrary to the format created by the General Council on Finance and Administration. The bishop’s decision of law that the inclusion of support of the Director of Mission and Ministry, Director of New and Ethnic Ministries, and the Director of Support Services/Treasurer in the same petition that sets support for the district superintendents is permissible is not affirmed. The Discipline requires that the expenses associated with district superintendents’ staff and offices be provided as a part of the budget estimate provided by the conference council on finance and administration. The bishop is not affirmed in his decision of law since petition 02-B did not include estimates for district superintendents’ staff and office expenses. DID THE COUNCIL ON FINANCE AND ADMINISTRATION PRESENT A PROPER BUDGET TO THE ANNUAL CONFERENCE? Paragraph 611.1 of the 2000 Discipline states: The council shall have authority and responsibility to perform the following functions: 1. To recommend to the annual conference for its action and determination budgets of anticipated income and proposed expenditures for all funds that provide for annual conference clergy support, annual conference administrative expenses, and annual conference benevolence and program causes (¶ 612). The disciplinary language is explicit in requiring the conference council on finance and administration to provide a budget for consideration by the annual conference that includes “anticipated income and proposed expenditures for all funds… .” Decision 744 upheld the disciplinary requirement that “both anticipated income and proposed expenditures shall be included.” Since the 2002 Rocky Mountain Annual Conference budget did not include anticipated income from any source, including estimated apportionments, the bishop’s decision of law is reversed. We recommend that the Rocky Mountain Annual Conference revise elements of its Standing Rules, which should refer to the 2000 Discipline and work to follow those provisions with greater precision.

Decision

Bishop Warner H. Brown, Jr. is affirmed in his decisions with respect to Question 1 regarding the inclusion of the annual conference budget in the conference journal. The bishop is not affirmed with respect to Question 2 concerning the presentation of a budget line item that combined district superintendent compensatory items with other conference staff. In presenting the compensatory items for district superintendents, such petitions must include all expenses including staff and office. The bishop is not affirmed with respect to Question 3 in that the conference budget must include all anticipated income, including estimates of apportionments.

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