Unsettled Christianity

Gloria Dei homo vivens – St Irenaeus
October 16th, 2014 by Joel Watts

Dare you withhold Apportionments? Indeed, I dare you. #UMC

English:

You wanna hurt the global mission of the United Methodist Church? Bring.it.On. English: (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There is a move, a threat, something akin to civil disobedience (if we must bring secular methods into the sectarian realm), unfolding before us. Various pastors, leaders of the fringes, have threatened to withhold apportionments if the United Methodist Church does not turn, or return, their way.

For those not blessed with this connexion, let me explain. Apportionments are not organizational dues. Congregations do not pay to belong to the United Methodist Association or Convention, but have a responsibility as stations of the United Methodist Church. This apportionment goes to support the global missions of the United Methodist Church in various ways, beginning with the Annual Conference and all that it takes to support it (including Bishops, etc…).

There are three particular paragraphs I want to call your attention to:

¶ 622. When the apportionments for bishops, district superintendents, conference claimants, and the Equitable Compensation Fund for the several districts and charges have been determined, payments made to the same in each pastoral charge shall be exactly proportional to the amount paid on the clergy base compensation (¶ 818.3). The treasurer or treasurers of each pastoral charge shall accordingly make proportional distribution of the funds raised in that charge for the support of the ordained ministry and shall remit monthly if practicable and quarterly at the latest the items for bishops, district superintendents, conference claimants, and the Equitable Compensation Fund to the proper treasurer or treasurers.

¶ 639.4. Proportional Payment—The board shall compare the records of the amounts paid by each pastoral charge for the support of pastors and for pension and benefit programs, computing the proportional distribution thereof and keeping a permanent record of defaults of the churches of the conference that have failed to observe the following provisions pertaining to proportional payment, and shall render annually to each church that is in default a statement of the amounts in default for that and preceding years.

  • a) When the apportionment to the pastoral charges for the pension and benefit program of the annual conference has been determined, payments made thereon by each pastoral charge shall be exactly proportionate to payments made on the salary or salaries of the ordained minister or clergy serving it.

¶ 818.3. Proportionality—The amount apportioned to a charge for the Episcopal Fund shall be paid in the same proportion as the charge pays its pastor (see also ¶ 622).

To sum, I quote the Oklahoma Annual Conference, which places on their budget this statement:

Items must be paid in an amount proportional to the amount paid on the pastor’s support, as required in Paragraphs 622, 639.4, and 818.3 of the 2012 Discipline. If the pastor is paid 100% of salary and support, then these items must be paid 100%.

In other words, if the apportionment is paid 70%, then the pastor can only receive 70% of his or her salary. If the apportionment is withheld completely, then pastors are going to work for free. This is a penalty of sorts imposed by the Book of Discipline. This should not even need a trial.

For examples of those withholding, or threatening to withhold apportionments, see here, here, here, here, and here. Others have graciously addressed the folly of such a move. Some don’t quite get who should pay, but they don’t get a lot as it were. Others, who I refuse to link to because of their habit of  misappropriating narratives and abusing others, criticize the move, but fail to note the penalty. I don’t find this particularly ironic given their sense of justice is usually some form of white savior universalism.

Granted, others may have noted it – and I may have missed it. If I have, then I guess we’ll just restart the conversation.

But, I want to call attention to the penalty of withholding the apportionment, especially as we move into 2016. Pastors who withhold apportionments should have, if they are serious about following the Book of Discipline — and likewise, if we are intent on enforcing it — have their salaries likewise withheld.1 I propose that we begin to enforce this part of the Book of Discipline now. .

Perhaps, we can look at those who repeatedly miss these covenantal responsibilities, examine their expenditures and consider how seriously we want to enforce the Book of Discipline.

What sayeth ye? Do we enforce the Book of Discipline or not?

 

 

  1. I define “withhold” as purposely not paying apportionment as a sign of protest, not because you failed to meet it due to budgetary issues.
Joel Watts
Watts holds a MA in Theological Studies from United Theological Seminary. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians, as well as seeking an MA in Clinical Mental Health at Adams State University. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).

Comments

One Response to “Dare you withhold Apportionments? Indeed, I dare you. #UMC”
  1. Jeff Smith says

    Hi Joel. Interesting article. A major question that is rarely asked or understood is how apportionment figures are arrived at from the general conference for many “directed” funds we all have to contribute to and why we seemingly have no voice in what funding streams are chosen and how much we should contribute? I believe all clergy and laity that serve at annual conferences in the US should have a vote on what is supported through apportionments and how much they are supported. We presently do not. Perhaps more churches would be inclined/excited to pay their allotted portions if they had a say in where their giving was going. And obviously there are a few funds like the district work fund that need to be funded to maintain the existence and operation of the districts. My two cents…no pun intended.

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