Decision Number 461
Constitutionality of a Proposal for the Establishment of A Basic and Uniform Salary Plan by an Annual Conference in Light of Par. 934.8 of the Discipline.
Except as qualified by Par. 934 of the Discipline, the Annual Conference is without authority either to fix or pay the salaries of the ministers of local charges.
Statement of Facts
A resolution was submitted to the Western Pennsylvania Annual Conference which read as follows:
Whereas there is a great diversity in the size of congregations and affluence and memberships thereof, thus tending to produce immense divergence in ability to pay ministerial salaries.
Whereas this tends to produce a financial pressure on ministers to scramble and connive for the better paying jobs in a natural desire to best provide for their families, at the expense of conscientiously serving where most needed, to alleviate this longstanding situation,
Be it resolved, that ministers be paid by the Conference on a basis of seniority and merit (criteria for this to be objectively developed by Equitable Salaries Committee), with a minimum salary advance yearly (to be uniformly applied regardless of size of church served or congregational wealth) advancing to a maximum salary over a twenty year period equal to the maximum now paid to the highest paid minister presently in the Conference, with this maximum to be adjusted in the future to inflationary cost of living pressures.
At the June 1979 session of the Western Pennsylvania Annual Conference, a resolution was passed petitioning the Judicial Council for a ruling " . . . in light of Par. 934.8 and other related Discipline rulings of the 1976 Discipline ." At a hearing on October 25, 1979, an oral presentation was made by Randall Luther, Chairman of the Western Pennsylvania Conference Commission on Equitable Salaries.
The Judicial Council has jurisdiction under Par. 2515 of the 1976 Discipline.
Analysis and Rationale
The petition as proposed is in conflict with various paragraphs of the 1976 Discipline:
1. Par. 934.8: Consistent with the provisions of this paragraph the primary responsibility for the payment of the pastoral salaries remains with individual pastoral charges.
2. Par. 932: The several Charge Conferences shall determine the pastors' salaries according to the provisions of Par. 243.9.
3. Par. 250.3: The Administrative Board shall annually:
d) after consultation with the Committee on Pastor-Parish Relations and the Committee on Finance, recommend to the Charge Conference the salary and other remuneration for the pastor and staff.
4. Par.250.5: It (the Administrative Board) shall make proper and adequate provision of the financial needs of the church, including ministerial support, i.e. for the pastors, district superintendent, conference claimants, and bishops; approved items of local expense; World Service, conference and other benevolences; other items apportioned to the church by the proper authorities; and all obligations assumed by the local church. (Emphasis added)
5. Par. 243.9: It (the Charge Conference) shall in consultation with the district superintendent set the salary and other remuneration of the pastor and other staff appointed by the bishop.
Most importantly, the petition conflicts with Par. 934.8 which states that primary responsibility for the payment of pastoral salaries remains with individual pastoral charges and with Par. 243.9 which gives to the Charge Conferences the responsibility for determination of the pastors' salaries.
The petition would remove the right of the Administrative Board annually to recommend to the Charge Conference the salary and other remunerations for the pastor and staff; and the Administrative Board's responsibility to make proper and adequate provision for the financial needs of the church including ministerial support (Par. 250.3 d and e).
In essence the petition calls for the establishment of a "Basic Salary Plan". It is to be noted that Par. 893 of the 1972 Discipline entitled "Basic Salary Plan" was deleted by the General Conference with the adoption of the Calendar Report No. 654, Page 511 of the Daily Christian Advocate, with the adoptive action on pages 968 and 970. Thus, the 1976 Discipline provides no authority for a basic salary plan, which in effect the petition proposes. Therefore, Decision No. 383 decided under earlier legislation is no longer applicable. Minimum salary plans under Par. 934 are not affected by this decision.
Except as qualified by Par. 934 of the Discipline, the Annual Conference is without authority either to fix or to pay the salaries of the ministers of local charges