Decision Number 706
Review of Bishop's Decision of Law in the North Carolina Conference Concerning Authority of Administrative Board to Make Changes in Policy.
The Administrative Board has the power to make, as well as change, policy. Any policy adopted may not be in violation of the Discipline. The decision of the bishop is affirmed.
Statement of Facts
This matter began in April, 1990 when the Administrative Board of the First United Methodist Church in Morehead City, North Carolina adopted a policy concerning the church's acceptance of financial gifts. A lay member of this church challenged the adoption of this policy by the Administrative Board, arguing that such action could be taken only by the Charge Conference. The action was subsequently declared legal by the district superintendent, the bishop, and the Judicial Council in Decision 667, dated October 25, 1991.
Then, at the November, 1992 Charge Conference of this same church, the same lay member raised the same concern, but this time emphasized that he was not challenging that the Administrative Board could make policy. He maintained that, once a policy was adopted it could not be changed by the Administrative Board in violation of the provisions of the Discipline, and that if a change of policy was to be adopted it should be done by the Charge Conference so that it could be readily appealed if it violated the Discipline. The district superintendent ruled that "The Administrative Board can make changes in policy without the authority of the Charge Conference." His ruling was affirmed by the bishop.
The Judicial Council has jurisdiction under Par. 2612 of the 1992 Discipline.
Analysis and Rationale
First, neither an Administrative Board of a local church nor its Charge Conference can adopt a policy in violation of the Discipline. In the instant matter, the First United Methodist Church of Morehead City's policy concerning financial gifts does not violate the Discipline. It simply and appropriately lists what financial gifts will be accepted by and/or funneled through the church. The paragraph cited by petitioner as being violated (now Par. 270.4(e) of the 1992 Discipline) refers to the obligation of the Committee on Finance to promptly forward contributions to their designated recipients. Par. 270.4(e) does not address what church body is to make the determination as to what contributions the church will accept, nor does it define what financial gifts must be accepted.
Second, adopting a new policy is no different than changing an existing policy. The bishop's ruling is affirmed in which he stated: "This decision is based on Paragraph 257 (page 147), The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church, 1992 Edition, which states that the Administrative Board shall '. . . determine policy . . .' of the local church."
The Administrative Board has the power to make, as well as change, policy. Any policy adopted may not be in violation of the Discipline, and in the instant matter the policy of the Administrative Board is in accord with the Discipline. The decision of the bishop is affirmed.