Delegates reject petitions aimed at ineffective clergy

The Rev. A. Lynn Hill of Tennessee speaks in committee.

Delegates to the 2008 United Methodist General Conference rejected two petitions dealing with clergy ineffectiveness and guaranteed appointments.

The delegates followed the recommendations of the ministry and higher education legislative committee and voted 824-25 to not amend paragraph 334.1 of the United Methodist Book of Discipline. The petitions asked that bishops appoint an ineffective pastor to less than full-time service.

Because the petitions were placed on a consent calendar, delegates also voted on April 30 to reject an effort involving clergy evaluations. The legislation would have allowed a district superintendent to initiate changing the pastor's conference relationship after three evaluations found a pastor to be ineffective and not likely to become effective through training and counseling.

The General Conference also voted to keep the Clergy Retirement Security Program which was approved by the 2004 General Conference. The new pension plans for clergy and employees of United Methodist agencies became effective in January 2007. They provide a program that follows "the best practices of major corporations" by combining the characteristics of a defined benefit and a defined contribution plan.

In a vote of 763-38, delegates declined to rescind the Clergy Retirement Security Program, which was changed from the Ministerial Pension Plan.

Tara Thronson of Southwest Texas addresses fellow delegates.

The rejected petition, submitted by the Memphis Annual (regional) Conference, noted that money for the clergy retirement program is primarily deposited into pooled funds rather than placed in individual accounts as under the former plan.

A related petition to give individuals one of three choices for each payroll period was also rejected. The current defined-benefit program provides the same benefit to all clergy across the church, based on a formula of 1.25 percent of the Denominational Average Compensation multiplied by years of credited service. It includes a defined contribution component of 3 percent of actual compensation, which allows participants to accumulate cash in a self-directed individual account.

The rejected petition would have allowed an individual the option of contributing 3 percent of compensation, 3 percent of the conference average compensation or 3 percent of the denominational average compensation.

According the United Methodist Commission on Religion and Race, in collaboration with the Dakotas Conference, amending the defined contribution plan of the Clergy Retirement Security Program was necessary to "give justice to our racial/ethnic minority pastors and to clergy women."

*Green is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in Nashville, Tenn.

News media contact: Linda Green, e-mail: [email protected]; call (615) 742-5470.

Resources

General Conference 2008

Board of Higher Education and Ministry

Board of Pension and Health Benefits

Sign up for our newsletter!

umnews-subscriptions
General Church
The Rev. William B. Lawrence.  Photo by H. Jackson/Southern Methodist University.

Possible steps after General Conference delay

A global pandemic has postponed General Conference, but the former Judicial Council president argues there is still work that cannot wait a year.
General Conference
Clergy members bless the elements of Holy Communion during the 2016 United Methodist General Conference in Portland, Ore. The Commission on the General Conference met March 21 to discuss next steps after coronavirus concerns forced the postponement of this year’s legislative assembly. File photo by Paul Jeffrey, UM News.

Updated: Looking at new General Conference dates

General Conference organizers met in closed session to explore when they could reschedule the lawmaking assembly after the coronavirus-compelled delay.
Global Health
The Minneapolis Convention Center — scheduled to host the 2020 General Conference — announced it is now canceling gatherings of 50 or more people through May 10. The decision comes as General Conference organizers already were considering postponement. Photo by Dan Anderson, courtesy of Meet Minneapolis and the Minneapolis Convention Center.

Church leaders postpone 2020 General Conference

With the venue that was scheduled to host is canceling large events through May 10, General Conference organizers decided they have no choice but to find new dates.