Council rules on Indiana Conference budget action

MORRISTOWN, N.J. (UMNS) – United Methodist bishops in the Philippines have the authority to handle a complaint against one of their own. The United Methodist Judicial Council, the denomination’s top court, ruled that the Philippines College of Bishops could handle such complaints – contrary to references in the 2008 Book of Discipline declaring bishops in the central conferences from Europe, Africa and Asia constitute one college of bishops in such matters. The court ruled the references are unconstitutional.

The ruling was one of 10 decisions made during the council’s April 21-24 spring meeting in Morristown.

One decision and a memorandum were related to the new Indiana Annual Conference. Reversing a decision of law by Bishop Michael Coyner, the Judicial Council found that the 2010 budget and financial policies adopted by the conference amounted to reductions in the apportioned general church funds.

The Council ruled the Indiana Conference Council on Finance and Administration report did not adequately show how the full general church apportionments were included in the Conference’s Tithe Budget, and therefore in the format of the Expense Budget, showed that the Conference planned to pay at least 80 percent of those general church apportionments. The council said this was an improper way to list those general church apportionments.

Church law requires that conferences build budgets that include items mandated by general church apportionments. It is clear, the Judicial Council said, that the Indiana Conference Council on Finance and Administration used “the poor apportionment performances” of the two former conferences rather than the full apportionment amount to project income levels for a new budget.

“It is laudable for a conference to seek means for increasing revenue,” the council said. “But creating devices to generate higher revenue for the annual conference that might lead to full payment of apportionments established by the general church does not relieve the annual conference from fulfilling the church law.”

The Conference CF&A and the Conference Leadership Table have already approved a new format for the 2011 budget that will show more clearly the total cost of the general church apportionments are included in the Conference Tithe, but it also will show a projected expense budget based upon anticipated income.

Coyner told Together, “Jennifer Gallagher (Indiana Conference Treasurer) and I also have discussed that we may prepare an actual church-by-church listing to show each local church what part of their tithe to the annual conference is actually their share of the general church apportionments.”

The full text of the Judicial Council decisions will be posted online at