Decision Number 1038
Review of Bishop's Decision of Law in the Rocky Mountain Annual Conference Related to Whether Elders and Licensed Local Pastors May Be Permitted to Waive Compensation under an Annual Conference's Clergy Minimum Compensation Plan.
The bishop's decision of law is affirmed. A proposed amendment allowing clergy to waive base minimum compensation cannot be added to the conference base minimum compensation plan. The proposed amendment would be applicable to all clergy categories, but elders and local pastors are not permitted to waive base minimum compensation.
Statement of Facts
During the 2005 regular session of the Rocky Mountain Annual Conference, the Commission on Equitable Compensation petitioned the conference to approve its report for minimum base compensation. The petition provided:
A. Minimum Base Compensation
1. The Rocky Mountain Conference Minimum Base Compensation for clergy [Elders, Deacons, Probationers, and Local Pastors] who are in good standing and appointed to full-time service according to the provisions of the 2004 Book of Discipline will be $27,693 effective January 1, 2006. This minimum compensation is 59% of the 2006 Conference Average Compensation (CAC) of $46,937. 2. For clergy who are in good standing and appointed to less than full-time service, the Minimum Base Compensation shall be adjusted in one-quarter increments.
An elder in full connection moved to amend the report by adding the following sentence to the end of paragraph 2: "Clergy may choose to waive minimum base compensation." A written request for a decision of law was made asking the bishop to "make a determination . . . that . . . ¶ 342 is not applicable [to the purposed amendment]." The written request was submitted during the regular business of a session. In order to facilitate review, the bishop has reported his decision of law in the manner and in the time frame provided by ¶ 2609.6 of the 2004 Book of Discipline.
The bishop ruled: "The proposed amendment … would allow 'clergy … to waive minimum base compensation …' in violation of the 2004 Book of Discipline. . . ." He said, "The Discipline allows deacons to receive an appointment to a non-salaried appointment. (¶ 331.6.d.) … [and] no other categories of clergy are specifically named as being allowed to waive their salary/compensation. Only deacons are specifically permitted to waive compensation." He further ruled:
¶ 342 of The Discipline requires that the 'Church shall provide … not less than the equitable compensation established by the annual conference…' I understand this to say that elders appointed to a local church must receive compensation, and the amount must equal or exceed the annual conference's base minimum.
¶ 318.1 of The Discipline requires local pastors to 'receive … an amount equal to or larger than the minimum base compensation …' when appointed to full-time service. ¶ 318.2 is not clear on minimum compensation for less than full-time local pastors. But in reading the two paragraphs together, I understand them to say that local pastors must equal or exceed the annual conference's base minimum (proportionately applied to less than full-time, as applicable).
Therefore, I have determined that only deacons can waive 'minimum base compensation' or be appointed to non-salaried positions.
An annual conference cannot adopt policies or guidelines which would prevent the payment of minimum compensation to full members in good standing. (citations omitted)
The proposed amendment uses the broad term 'clergy,' thereby including not only deacons but also elders and licensed local pastors. Since neither elders nor licensed local pastors are allowed to waive minimum base compensation, and an annual conference cannot prevent the payment of minimum base compensation, the proposed amendment violates the 2004 Book of Discipline. . . .
The Judicial Council has jurisdiction under Â¶ 2609.6 of the 2004 Discipline.
Analysis and Rationale
Paragraph 342 is clear in stating that [t]he Church shall provide, and the ordained minister is entitled to receive, not less than the equitable compensation established by the annual conference for clergy members. . . . Paragraphs 342.1 and 342.2 set out that principle for elders in full-time service and elders in less than full time service. In Decision 579 the Judicial Council interpreted these provisions as requiring each annual conference to establish basic minimum salary for members of the conference and that the conference could not make rules which would deprive any full member in good standing of basic minimum salary. Local pastors cannot waive minimum base compensation. See Â¶ 318. Elders and local pastors are entitled to receive not less than the equitable compensation established by the annual conference. See Decision 968. Only deacons may choose to waive minimum base compensation. Paragraph 331.6.d allows deacons in full connection to be appointed, at their request or with their consent, to a non-salaried position.
The bishop's decision of law is affirmed. The amendment violates the Discipline. Since the proposed amendment would apply to all categories of clergy, those that may waive minimum base compensation and those that may not waive minimum base compensation, the amendment does not meet disciplinary requirements and cannot be added to the conference's minimum base compensation plan.
The bishop's decision of law of the bishop is affirmed. A proposed amendment allowing clergy to waive base minimum compensation cannot be added to the conference base minimum compensation plan. The proposed amendment would be applicable to all clergy categories, but elders and local pastors are not permitted to waive base minimum compensation.