INDIANAPOLIS – The Judicial Council which is the highest judicial body or “court” of our United Methodist Church gathered, October 22-25, 2014, for its fall meeting in Memphis, Tenn. and has released a series of decisions. Two of these decisions directly impact our Indiana Conference.

Decision #1282 ruled that the “Demolition Fund” proposed by our Indiana Conference Trustees and approved by the 2014 Session of the Indiana Annual Conference must be be revised in order to exclude funds from any church closed in urban areas (with a population of 50,000 or more). Those funds must be placed into an account to be used for a Conference Urban Ministry Action Plan.  The Trustees had proposed using 15% of the funds from the sale of all closed churches to help the Trustees with the costs of repair, insurance, utilities, or demolition of such properties.  Based on Decision #1282, Bishop Michael J. Coyner, resident bishop of the Indiana Conference, has instructed our Conference Treasurer, Jennifer Gallagher, to separate all proceeds from the sale of any closed churches in any urban areas of Indiana and to place them into an “Urban Ministry Action Plan” fund.  That fund will be monitored by the Conference Church Development team who will propose and approve the use of these funds to start new churches and new ministries throughout the urban areas of Indiana.  Other funds from closed churches will continue to be placed into their respective district accounts for church development, with 15% held aside in the Trustee’s Demolition Fund.

In Decision #1273, the Judicial Council ruled that the Rev. Michael Heinbaugh had been improperly placed on Transition Leave for the months of August through December 2013, when he was not appointed to a local church.  In response, Bishop Coyner has instructed our Conference Treasurer to reimburse Rev. Heinbaugh the minimum salary for an Elder for those months of 2013, as well as for the Conference Board of Pensions to issue Rev. Heinbaugh a pension credit for the same time period.

To learn more about the recent decisions of the Judicial Council of The United Methodist Church, please visit http://bit.ly/judicialcounciloct2014.

The Indiana Conference of The United Methodist Church consists of more than 1,200 active clergy serving across the communities of Indiana with a mission of providing leadership for vibrant congregations making faithful disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.