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Memorandum No. 1081

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October 26 2007
In Re: Review of Bishop’s Decision of Law in the Western North Caroline Annual Conference Concerning The Application of ¶ 612.19 of the 2004 Book of Discipline to the 2007 Conference Budget.

During the 2007 session of the Western North Carolina Annual Conference, calendar items came before the body and the “Conference Funds and Financial Policies” was introduced. Thereafter, a lay member of the conference made a written request for a decision of law to the bishop. The questions asked were as follows:

Question 1: Since the North Carolina Council of Churches is known to have funded various activities that promote acceptance of homosexuality - including, but not limited to, its promoting a list of “Study Guides and Resources for Faith Communities for Facilitating Discussion on Homosexuality” that has a strong overall bias against the church’s official position and its producing “Acts of Faith Resources for Prophetic Worship,” which repeatedly promotes perspectives opposed to United Methodist teaching on homosexuality - would Paragraph 612.19 of the Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church not prevent making any funds from this proposed budget available for unrestricted grants to the North Carolina Council of Churches? Question 2: Would making any funds in this proposed budget available to directly or indirectly support the Wesley-Luther Campus Ministry at UNC-Greensboro not be in conflict with Paragraph 612.19 of The United Methodist Book of Discipline as long as this campus ministry chooses to remain a part of the Reconciling Ministries network, which may be accurately described as a “gay caucus or group” and whose stated mission cannot be harmonized with the stance of our church?
The bishop announced a ruling would be issued within 30 days and upon consideration of the calendar item, it was adopted. The bishop ruled in the allotted time and said:
Though the questions raised . . . make assumptions that funds provided through the budget of the Western North Carolina Annual Conference to the North Carolina Council of Churches and the Wesley-Luther Campus Ministry are being used in violation of paragraph 612.19 of THE BOOK OF DISCIPLINE OF THE UNITED METHODIST CHURCH, the questions present no evidence to substantiate the claim that any such funds are being so used. There is no violation of THE BOOK OF DISCIPLINE by either the Western North Carolina Annual Conference or its Council on Finance and Administration in granting these funds.
The Judicial Council has jurisdiction under ¶ 2609 of the 2004 Book of Discipline. Paragraph 612.19 of the 2004 Discipline says:
[N]o annual conference board, agency, committee, commission, or council shall give United Methodist funds to any gay caucus or group, or otherwise use such funds to promote the acceptance of homosexuality. The council shall have the right to stop such expenditures. This restriction shall not limit the Church’s ministry in response to the HIV epidemic, nor shall it preclude funding for dialogs or educational events where the Church’s official position is fairly and equally represented.
The annual conference council on finance and administration is charged with the primary authority and responsibility to ensure that such funds are not given or used in a manner proscribed by ¶ 612.19. Decision 1030. The record before the Judicial Council does not reflect that the Western North Carolina Annual Conference Council on Finance and Administration has reviewed the funding requests, evaluated the work and activities of the North Carolina Council of Churches and Wesley-Luther Campus Ministry and made a determination as to whether funds are being given or used to promote the acceptance of homosexuality. Therefore, this matter is remanded to the Western North Carolina Annual Conference for the Council on Finance and Administration to make the determination required by ¶ 612.19 and to report its findings to the Judicial Council within 60 days of this decision. The Judicial Council retains jurisdiction.
DIGEST
The matter is remanded to the Western North Carolina Annual Conference for the Council on Finance and Administration to make the determination required by ¶ 612.19 of the 2004 Book of Discipline and to report its findings to the Judicial Council within 60 days of this decision. The Judicial Council retains jurisdiction. October 27, 2007 James W. Holsinger, Jr., Jon R. Gray and Shamwange P. Kyungu were absent. C. Rex Bevins, the first clergy alternate, and Solomon Christian, the first lay alternate, participated in this decision.

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