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Memorandum No. 952

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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 Process of Evaluation by the Conference Personnel Committee of the Annual Conference Staffing Plan.

Digest of Case

Pending before the Judicial Council is a review of a decision of law by Bishop Warner H. Brown, Jr. in the Rocky Mountain Annual Conference. During the 2002 annual conference session, Petition 24-B titled “Evaluation of Conference Staffing” was presented for approval and adoption. The petition is as follows: An all-inclusive evaluation of the Rocky Mountain Annual Conference Staffing Plan shall be undertaken by the Conference Personnel Committee and where appropriate the District Superintendency and Episcopacy committees, and Council on Finance and Administration, under the direction of the Bishop and The Conference Board of Stewards, with particular attention to: Review and evaluation of current position descriptions, and a determination as to whether these positions directly support the mission of the Rocky Mountain Annual Conference Board of Stewards: “The forming, and sending disciples as agents of God’s Kingdom for the transformation of the world. The Mission of the Rocky Mountain Conference is to invite, form, and send the best possible spiritual leaders to our ministry settings so that in every place, persons are empowered in their ministries.” Review and evaluation of all persons currently working in each conference staff position, including an evaluation of their performance, and their availability and responsiveness to local churches. Local church input is required in this portion of the evaluation process. Consideration of the following question: Can some of the tasks currently performed by the conference staff members be effectively performed on a local church, cluster or district level, thereby eliminating the need for some of our staff positions? The Board of Stewards and the Conference Personnel Committee shall report their findings and recommendation to the 2003 Annual Conference session. The Petition was adopted by the Conference and a request for a decision of law on the propriety of the petition was made to the bishop. The request is as follows: “Is it lawful under Paragraph 611(12) of the 2000 BOOK OF DISCIPLINE for the Conference personnel committee (to work)…under the direction of…the Conference Board of Stewards (in evaluating the Conference Staffing Plan as requested in the 2002 Annual Conference Petition #24-B as amended and adopted?” The bishop ruled that the petition is lawful and consistent with ¶ 611.12 of the 2000 Discipline. The bishop’s rationale is that “[w]hile the Council on Finance and Administration has responsibility to establish personnel practices and policies on compensation of personnel, Paragraph 611.12 clearly states that it is within the authority of the annual conference to designate ‘another agency to carry this responsibility’.” The Judicial Council has jurisdiction under ¶ 2609.6 of the 2000 Discipline. The bishop’s decision of law is not affirmed. The petition is not lawful and consistent with ¶ 611.12. Paragraph 611.12 gives the conference council on finance and administration the responsibility to establish uniform equitable policies and practices in the employment and compensation of personnel. As provided, the conference may delegate the responsibility to another agency. The paragraph does not, however, give the council or its designated agency the responsibility of reviewing and evaluating job descriptions. Neither does ¶ 611.12 give the council or its designated agency the responsibility of reviewing and evaluating job performance of conference staff. If the conference personnel committee has these responsibilities, the authority does not emanate from ¶ 611.12. A conference personnel committee may have the responsibilities set out in the petition but in that regard, it is not functioning as a designee of the conference council on finance and administration pursuant to ¶ 611.12. The responsibilities set out in the petition are functions to be directed by a conference council on ministries, or other corresponding structure, rather than the conference council on finance and administration. The conference council on finance and administration is, however, responsible for directing the duties and job performance of the conference treasurer/director of administrative services. The treasurer/director shall be directly amenable to the conference council on finance and administration as provided by ¶ 617 of the Discipline. To charge the conference council on finance and administration, or its designee, with the responsibilities listed in the petition would not be lawful and consistent with ¶ 611.12. A conference personnel committee that is formed to discharge ¶ 611.12 duties, that is to establish uniform and equitable policies and practices in the employment and compensation of personnel, must be amenable and report directly to the annual conference. (Par. 610.6) Such committee cannot be under the direction of another entity or body of the annual conference. Sally Brown Geis recused herself and did not participate in any of the proceedings related to this decision. A conference personnel committee may have the responsibility of reviewing and evaluating conference job descriptions and reviewing and evaluating persons in those jobs. However, the responsibility does not emanate from ¶ 611.12 of the Discipline. It is not lawful and consistent with ¶ 611.12 of the 2000 Discipline to charge the conference council on finance and administration with the responsibility of reviewing and evaluating conference job descriptions and reviewing and evaluating persons in those jobs. The conference council on finance and administration is responsible for directing the duties and job performance of the conference treasurer/director of administrative services. The treasurer/director shall be directly amenable to the conference council on finance and administration as provided by ¶ 617 of the Discipline. The bishop’s decision of law is not affirmed.

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