Top Court Holds Up Bishop’s Decision

Here is what was reported on our conference website.

Top court rules on financial, clergy issues
By Linda Bloom*
Nov. 2, 2009 | DURHAM, N.C. (UMNS)
Local United Methodist churches cannot arbitrarily choose which general church programs to support financially, according to the church’s top court.
The Judicial Council has upheld the decision by Bishop Larry Goodpaster that the Western North Carolina Annual (regional) Conference’s “Choice Empowerment” plan is a violation of Paragraph 247.14 of the United Methodist Book of Discipline.
That case was one of 21 docket items considered by the nine-member council when it met Oct. 27-31. Among other issues, the council addressed questions on the participation of retired clergy in local churches, pension and health insurance plans and representation to the church’s legislative body.
The Choice Empowerment plan essentially gives churches permission not to pay what is requested of them, the council’s decision said. The bishop had noted a “substantial decline in connectional support” during the five years the plan has been in effect.
“One of the basic principles of The United Methodist Church’s connectional system is to provide ministries and outreach in ways and places that individual churches are not able to do alone,” the council pointed out. “This philosophy is built upon a belief in shared responsibility for the extension of mission and ministry of the whole church to the world.”
Payment in full of these apportionments “is the first benevolent responsibility of the church,” the decision said. [Other Issues] [Decision]

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