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Decision No. 1054

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October 26 2006
In Re: Review of Bishop’s Decision of Law in the Iowa Annual Conference Concerning Whether a Report of the Task Force on Connectional Funding Violates ¶¶ 247.14, 611.1, 612, 613, 614 and 621 of 2004 Book of Discipline.

Digest of Case

The Report of the Task Force on Connectional Funding violates ¶¶ 247.14, 611.1, 612, 613, 614 and 621 of the 2004 Book of Discipline. General Conference has set forth very specific and detailed processes by which annual conferences are to determine and set their budget. The Task Force’s proposed legislation undermines those processes and is in direct conflict with many disciplinary provisions. Any recommendations by the Task Force to the Iowa Annual Conference regarding issues of stewardship, connectional funding, and budget processes may not conflict with said paragraphs.

Statement of Facts

During the 2006 regular session of the Iowa Annual Conference, a motion was made to adopt a recommendation from its Task Force on Connectional Funding, which set forth a plan to “move toward a tithe and offering funding system.” Each local church would be required to remit 10% of their income to the Iowa Annual Conference. Churches would also choose additional conference ministries to pledge financial support. The Task Force further proposed:

We recommend an Implementation Team be appointed to help ensure the recommendations in this report, if approved by the Annual Conference, are enacted in a timely, measurable, and logical manner. This task force recognizes that there will be details to work through and new procedures that must be identified and communicated. We ask that members of Annual Conference decide if this is the direction we need to go and then trust creative, intelligent, and committed members to perfect this funding system.
(Emphasis added). After the above-referenced motion was made, a clergy member of the Conference then requested a decision of law from the presiding bishop:
Pursuant to The Book of Discipline, 2004, ¶ 51, The Constitution, Article VII, I respectfully request of you a decision of law on whether the report of the Task Force on Connectional Funding includes recommendations which are in violation of ¶ 247.14, ¶611.1, ¶612.1, ¶612.2, ¶612.3, ¶613, ¶614 and ¶621.
The Bishop ruled that the Task Force on Connectional Funding recommendations made no provision for the apportioning of the General Church apportionments which violated ¶ 614.1 of the 2004 Book of Discipline. The Bishop further ruled that the recommendations were never submitted to the Council on Finance and Administration of the Iowa Annual Conference for its consideration and/or recommendation as prescribed in ¶ 612.3 of the 2004 Book of Discipline.
Jurisdiction
The Judicial Council has jurisdiction under ¶ 2609.6 of the 2004 Discipline.
Analysis and Rationale
The 2004 Book of Discipline provides that apportionments are given to local churches or districts, based upon the budget of the annual conference:
As soon as practicable after the session of annual conference, each district superintendent or designated agent shall notify each local church in the district what amounts have been apportioned to it for World Service, conference benevolences and other general Church, jurisdictional, and annual conference funds. . . . Payment in full of these apportionments by local churches is the first benevolent responsibility of the church. (¶ 247.14 of the Discipline). The council [on finance and administration] shall recommend to the annual conference for its action and determination the methods or formulas by which the approved budgeted amounts for clergy support, administration, World Service, Conference Benevolences, and other apportioned causes (¶¶ 613.1-.4) shall be apportioned to the districts, churches, or charges of the conference. (¶ 614 of the Discipline). Each annual conference shall determine what plan and method shall be used in distributing the apportionments to its several districts and charges for the Episcopal Fund (¶ 817.1), for the support of district superintendents and conference claimants, and for the Equitable Compensation Fund (¶ 624). (¶ 620 of the Discipline).
The Task Force recommendation provides that local churches will pay ten percent (10%) of each month’s income rather than an apportioned amount. This procedure provides no assurance to the annual conference that the income budgets it has set will be met. It makes no provision for the payment in full of the apportionments that are required according to the Discipline. Further, it puts the local church in control of what it contributes toward the budget. A system that allows local churches to choose what ministries to support violates the Discipline and undermines the spirit of the connectional system. The conference council on finance and administration is responsible for recommending the apportionment formula to the annual conference:
The council shall recommend to the annual conference for its action and determination the methods or formulas by which the approved budgeted amounts for clergy support, administration, World Service, Conference Benevolences, and other apportioned causes . . . shall be apportioned to the districts, churches, or charges of the conference. (¶ 614 of the Discipline). The council shall . . . recommend to the annual conference for its action and decision the methods or formulas by which apportionments to churches, charges, or districts for duly authorized general, jurisdictional, conference, and district funds shall be determined. (¶ 612.3 of the Discipline).
The Task Force recommendation asks the Annual Conference to adopt a new funding formula without evidence of consultation with, nor recommendation by, the Council on Finance and Administration of the Iowa Annual Conference. The annual conference has the responsibility for funding ministries:
[E]ach district superintendent or designated agent shall notify each local church in the district what amounts have been apportioned to it for World Service, conference benevolences and other general Church, jurisdictional, and annual conference funds . . . . World Service on apportionment represents the minimum needs for the mission and ministry of the Church. Conference benevolences represent the minimum needs for mission and ministry in the annual conference. Payment in full of these apportionments by local churches is the first benevolent responsibility of the church. . . . (¶ 247.14 of the Discipline)(Original emphasis). Each annual conference shall determine what plan and method shall be used in distributing the apportionments to its several districts and charges for the Episcopal Fund . . . , for the support of district superintendents and conference claimants, and for the Equitable Compensation Fund . . . . (¶ 620 of the Discipline). The council [on finance and administration, on receiving] the several general funds authorized by the General Conference, shall apportion the same to the several districts, charges, or churches by whatever method the conference may direct, but without reduction. (¶ 614 of the Discipline). It shall be the duty of the council [on finance and administration], unless otherwise provided, to estimate the total amount necessary to furnish a sufficient and equitable support for the district superintendents of the conference, . . .for the Episcopal Fund apportionment to the annual conference, . . . the annual conference share of the cost of the bishop's housing, . . . the needs for pensions and benefit programs of the conference, . . .an amount . . . to be used for compliance with the approved schedule of equitable base compensation for pastors, . . . [and] the amounts needed for any other programs of clergy support the conference may adopt, such as a Sustentation Fund . . . or provision for the moving expenses of pastors.” (¶ 613.1 of the Discipline). The council [on finance and administration] shall include in its budget recommendations specific amounts recommended for all other funds properly apportioned to the annual conference for the support of duly authorized general or other connectional funds. The budget recommendations shall likewise include any other amounts to be apportioned to the districts, charges, or churches by the annual conference for conference or district causes of any kind. (¶ 613.4 of the Discipline).
The Task Force recommendation ignores the requirement of the Discipline to build budgets which include the items mandated above and then to apportion such budgets to the local churches or districts as approved by the annual conference. The Task Force recommendation has no regard for the budget, the general church apportionments or the funds needed for clergy support, or conference administration. The Bishop’s decision of law is affirmed.
Decision
The Report of the Task Force on Connectional Funding violates ¶¶ 247.14, 611.1, 612, 613, 614 and 621 of the 2004 Book of Discipline. General Conference has set forth very specific and detailed processes by which annual conferences are to determine and set their budget. The Task Force’s proposed legislation undermines those processes and is in direct conflict with many disciplinary provisions. Any recommendations by the Task Force to the Iowa Annual Conference regarding issues of stewardship, connectional funding, and budget processes may not conflict with said paragraphs. October 27, 2006 Mary A. Daffin and Shamwange P. Kyungu were absent.

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