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Decision No. 1013

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April 28 2005
In Re: Request from the California-Pacific Annual Conference for a Declaratory Decision on the Meaning, Application and Effect of ¶¶ 612 and 623 of the 2000 Discipline Concerning Minimum Base Compensation and Base Compensation Supplements for Clergy Support.

Digest of Case

The conference council on finance and administration must consult with the conference commission on equitable compensation before submitting a recommended budget to the annual conference for its approval. Consultation means that the conference commission on equitable compensation and the conference council on finance and administration will make good faith efforts to reach agreement on the amount of support necessary to fully fund minimum base compensation and base compensation supplements for clergy. The obligation of the annual conference is to establish the annual conference budget and provide for equitable compensation for all clergy members in good standing. The annual conference has the sole responsibility to adopt budgets of anticipated income and proposed expenditures for all funds to be apportioned to the churches, charges, or districts. The annual conference is required to support the schedule of minimum base compensation and base compensation supplements. This responsibility may not be delegated to or assumed by any other body.

Statement of Facts

The California-Pacific Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church requested a declaratory decision under the provision of ¶ 2610.2j of the 2000 Book of Discipline on the following question of church law:

Under the provisions of ¶ 623.3 and .7 and in light of Judicial Council Decisions 90 and 179, must the Conference Council on Finance and Administration accept the amount determined by the Commission on Equitable Compensation as “required to support the schedule of minimum base compensation and base compensation supplements for the pastors, as adopted by the conference,” and recommend the amount to the Annual Conference in a budget for clergy support (¶ 612.1e); or may the Conference Council on Finance and Administration lower the amount determined by the Commission on Equitable Compensation as “required to support the minimum base compensation and base compensation supplements for the pastors, as adopted by the conference,” in its recommendation to the Annual Conference in a budget for clergy support?
In the spring of 2004, the Commission on Equitable Compensation (¶ 623.1) of the California-Pacific Annual Conference made a recommendation for the amount of budget needed to support the schedule of minimum base compensation (¶ 623.3). As required by ¶ 612, all budgetary recommendations relating to Clergy Support go the Conference Commission of Finance and Administration. The Conference Commission on Finance and Administration reduced the amount the Conference Commission on Equitable Compensation recommended as needed to support the schedule of minimum base compensation in its recommendation of a Ministerial Support Apportionment budget to the Annual Conference. A member of the Conference Commission on Equitable Compensation believed that this action was contrary to the 2000 Discipline. It was moved, and the Annual Conference session voted to send to the Judicial Council the request for a Declaratory Decision on this question.
Jurisdiction
The Judicial Council has jurisdiction under ¶ 2610 of the 2000 Discipline.
Analysis and Rationale
Paragraph 612 of the 2000 Discipline states that: The council [on finance and administration] shall 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. Additionally, ¶ 612.1(e) states that:
It [council on finance and administration] shall recommend to the annual conference an amount determined in consultation with the commission on equitable compensation to be used for compliance with the approved schedule of equitable base compensation for pastors.
Further, ¶ 623.7 states that:
In consultation with the commission on equitable compensation, the council on finance and administration shall recommend to the conference its estimate of the amount required to support the schedule of minimum base compensation and base compensation supplements for the pastors, as adopted by the conference. The conference council on finance and administration shall apportion the amount approved by the conference, as an item of clergy support to the districts or the charges as the conference may direct.
Further, ¶ 618 states that:
Assumption of the obligations of the itinerancy, required to be made at the time of admission into the traveling connection, puts upon the Church the counter obligation of providing support for the itinerant ministry of the Church. In view of this, the claim for pastoral support in each pastoral charge shall include provisions for the support of pastors, district superintendents, bishops, and conference claimants.
Decision 579 states that:
An Annual Conference must establish a basic minimum salary for members of the conference. The conference may not make rules, which would deprive any member in good standing in the conference of basic minimum salary.
(Emphasis added). When preparing the budget to be presented to the annual conference, the Discipline under ¶ 623.7 requires that the conference council on finance and administration must consult with the conference commission on equitable compensation. The conference council on finance and administration must consult with the conference commission on equitable compensation before recommending to the annual conference its estimate of the amount required to support the schedule of minimum base compensation and base compensation supplements for the pastors, as adopted by the conference. Consultation, in this context, means that the conference commission on equitable compensation and the conference council on finance and administration will make good faith efforts to reach agreement on the amount of support necessary to fully fund minimum base compensation and base compensation supplements for clergy. The conference council on finance and administration then shall recommend to the annual conference for its action and determination budgets of anticipated income and proposed expenditures for all funds. The annual conference is obligated to establish a basic minimum salary for members of the conference and may not deprive any member in good standing of the conference minimum base compensation and base compensation supplements. (Decision 579). The conference commission on equitable compensation must disclose the needs for minimum base compensation and base compensation supplements for all members in good standing. The conference council on finance and administration must take into account in the recommended budget to the annual conference the requirement for adequate support for the schedule of minimum base compensation and base compensation supplements. If there are adjustments in the conference council on finance and administration’s proposed budget to the annual conference, from the request made by the conference commission on equitable compensation, the conference council on finance and administration must provide to the annual conference the rationale for any proposed changes made. The conference council on finance and administration must consult with the conference commission on equitable compensation. It is the sole responsibility of the annual conference to adopt budgets of anticipated income and proposed expenditures for all funds to be apportioned to the churches, charges, or districts. This responsibility may not be delegated to or assumed by any other body.
Decision
The conference council on finance and administration must consult with the conference commission on equitable compensation before submitting a recommended budget to the annual conference for its approval. Consultation means that the conference commission on equitable compensation and the conference council on finance and administration will make good faith efforts to reach agreement on the amount of support necessary to fully fund minimum base compensation and base compensation supplements for clergy. The obligation of the annual conference is to establish the annual conference budget and provide for equitable compensation for all clergy members in good standing. The annual conference has the sole responsibility to adopt budgets of anticipated income and proposed expenditures for all funds to be apportioned to the churches, charges, or districts. The annual conference is required to support the schedule of minimum base compensation and base compensation supplements. This responsibility may not be delegated to or assumed by any other body. Shamwange P. Kyungu was absent. C. Rex Bevins, the first clergy alternate, participated in this decision.

Decision

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