Decision Number 181
The Request of the Texas Conference for a Declaratory Decision Whether a Retired Minister Serving a Charge as a Supply Pastor May Be Lawfully Required to Pay a Portion of His Salary to a Fund for Pensions
A retired minister appointed as supply pastor of a charge cannot be required to pay any portion of his salary into any fund for pensions.
Statement of Facts
The 1959 report of the Texas Conference Board of Pensions (South Central Jurisdiction) recommended:
"That each Church pay an amount equal to 15% of the Pastor's and Associate Pastor's salary to the Conference Board of Pensions, and that each minister, who will receive annuity credit for his year of service, pay 1% of his salary into the fund."
The Conference Board of Pensions interpreted the recommendation to mean that a retired minister who is appointed by the Bishop as pastor of a church must also pay 1% of his salary into the fund, notwithstanding the precise language of the recommendation says:
"and that each minister, who will receive annuity credit for his year of service, pay 1% of his salary into the fund."
C. A. West, Secretary of the Conference, has certified that the Texas Annual Conference at its 1960 session adopted a resolution to request the Judicial Council to render a declaratory decision as to "whether a retired minister serving a charge as a supply may be lawfully required to pay one per cent of his salary to the fund for superannuates."
Under Paragraph 914 (8) of the 1960 Discipline the request of the Texas Conference (South Central Jurisdiction) is properly before the Judicial Council.
Analysis and Rationale
Paragraph 1610 (4) of the 1960 Discipline states in part:
". . . a conference shall have power to require from its ministerial members and approved supply pastors who are appointed with annuity claim on the conference an annual contribution to either its permanent or reserve fund or for current distribution or to a preachers aid society for the benefit of its annuitants. . . ."
The action of the Texas Conference in 1959 adopting the recommendations of its Board of Pensions is clearly within the authorization of Paragraph 1610 (4) requiring as it does only that a "minister, who will receive annuity credit for his year of service, pay 1% of his salary into the fund."
It appears, however, that in the application of this authorization of the Annual Conference and the provisions of Paragraph 1610 (4) of the 1960 Discipline the Texas Conference Board of Pensions has interpreted this authorization to permit a requirement that a retired minister who is appointed by the Bishop, as pastor of a church must also pay 1% of his salary into the fund.
It is clear from Paragraph 1618 (1-4) of the 1960 Discipline that a retired minister may not receive annuity credit for service rendered after retirement, since only years of service rendered while "on trial or in the effective relation in an Annual Conference of the Methodist Church . . . are eligible to be counted for the purpose of determining the annuity claims payable thereon." (Emphasis supplied.)
In conformity with the principle involved in the above cited paragraphs this Council in its analysis of the request adjudicated in Decision No. 165, April 30, 1960, has reasoned that additional service years may not be allowed while a minister is retired.
It would then appear that a minister cannot, while retired, accumulate years of service on his pension record and that an Annual Conference may require pension contributions only from its ministerial members or approved supply pastors who are appointed with annuity claim.
It is, therefore, the decision of the Judicial Council that a retired minister appointed as a supply pastor cannot be required to pay any percentage of his salary into any funds for pensions.