¶ 1504. Authorizations-The General Board of Pension and Health Benefits is authorized and empowered to provide administrative, trust, and investment support to The United Methodist Church and its constituent boards, agencies, conferences, organizations, and other institutions in their efforts to provide support, relief, and assistance, and pension, welfare, and other benefits for clergy of this denomination, lay workers of the various units of the Church, and their families. Subject to the provisions of ¶ 2506 herein the general board shall perform its duties and responsibilities in the spirit of the Church’s mandate for inclusiveness and racial and social justice. In particular, and without limiting the generality of the foregoing, the general board, directly or through any entity created by it, is authorized and empowered:
1. To operate, manage, and administer the mandatory benefit funds, plans, and programs established by the General Conference: (a) the Ministerial Pension Plan, amended and restated effective January 1, 2007, as the Clergy Retirement Security Program; (b) the Staff Retirement Benefits Program, amended and restated effective January 1, 2007, as the Retirement Security Program for General Agencies of The United Methodist Church; and (c) the Comprehensive Protection Plan. The provisions of these mandatory benefit programs shall be incorporated by reference into the Discipline and shall have the full force of law as if printed in the Discipline. No proposal shall be made to the General Conference that changes a benefit presently in effect without first securing through the General Board of Pension and Health Benefits an actuarial opinion concerning the cost and other related aspects of the proposed change.
2. To create, amend, operate, manage, administer, and terminate nonmandatory relief, assistance, and benefit funds, plans, and programs for interested conferences, local churches, boards, agencies, institutions, and other affiliated units of The United Methodist Church.
3. To continue the operation, management, and administration of relief, assistance, and benefit funds, plans, and programs created prior to 1981, including but not limited to: the Lay Pension Plan; Joint Contributory Annuity Fund; Staff Pension Fund; the Pension Plan for Lay Employees; Lay Employees Pension Fund; Bishops Reserve Pension and Benefit Fund, in consultation with the General Council on Finance and Administration; the Chaplains Supplemental Pension Grant Fund, in consultation with the Division of Chaplains and Related Ministries; the Printing Establishment of the United Brethren in Christ Fund; and the Retirement Allowance for Bishops, General Church Officers, and Staff Personnel Plan of the former Evangelical United Brethren Church, with funds to be provided by the General Council on Finance and Administration.
4. To make reports to the General Conference with respect to the support, relief, assistance, and pension, welfare, and other benefits for clergy of this denomination, lay workers of the various units of the Church, and their families.
5. To adopt rules, regulations, and policies for the administration of the relief, assistance, and benefit funds, plans, and programs that the general board administers, in all matters not specifically covered by General Conference legislation or by reasonable implication, and to prescribe such forms and records as are needed for the administration of such funds, plans, and programs.
6. To prepare and publish benefit summaries, manuals, and other publications or media related to the funds, plans, and programs administered by the general board.
7. To compile and maintain complete service records of clergy members in full connection, associate members, and probationary members, and of local pastors whose service may be related to potential annuity claims of the annual conferences of The United Methodist Church situated within the boundaries of the United States and Puerto Rico. Such service records shall be based on answers to the Business of the Annual Conference questions as published in the journals of the annual conferences situated within the boundaries of the United States and Puerto Rico and in the General Minutes of The United Methodist Church, or in comparable publications of either or both of the uniting churches, and from information provided by annual conference boards of pensions. The conference boards of pensions shall be responsible for providing census data when requested by the general board on participants and their families, including but not limited to such data as birth dates, marriage dates, divorce dates, and dates of death.
8. To administer a clearinghouse for the allocation of pension responsibility among the annual conferences situated within the boundaries of the United States and Puerto Rico, in accordance with the principle of divided annuity responsibility, and for the collection and distribution of pension funds related to such responsibility.
a) For each beneficiary involved in the operation of the clearinghouse, the general board shall determine the division of responsibility on account of approved service rendered.
b) The general board shall have authority to determine the pension responsibility of each annual conference, in accordance with the principle of divided annuity responsibility, and to collect from each annual conference, as determined on the basis of their respective pension programs, the amount required by the clearinghouse to provide the pension benefits related thereto. Each annual conference shall provide funds to meet its annuity responsibility to beneficiaries of other annual conferences on the same basis as it provides pension payments for beneficiaries related directly to itself.
c) The general board is authorized and empowered to make all the rules concerning details that may be necessary for the operation of the clearinghouse.
9. On request of an annual conference or conference organization or agency of The United Methodist Church, to receive therefrom distributable and reserve pension funds and to make the periodic pension payments to the beneficiaries of such annual conference, conference organization, board, or agency, in accordance with a schedule of distribution, which shall be provided for the guidance of the general board in making such payments. The general board shall report annually the details of transactions under this provision. The general board shall be entitled to recover the cost of performing such services.
10. To administer the Chartered Fund for the benefit of all the annual and provisional annual conferences in The United Methodist Church, the boundaries of which are within the United States, its territorial and insular possessions, and Cuba, unless the General Conference shall order otherwise. Once a year the net earnings of the fund, after provision for depreciation, shall be divided equally among such annual and provisional annual conferences in accordance with the restrictive rule contained in ¶ 22.
11. To order and direct that the income from the General Endowment Fund for Conference Claimants (formerly known as the General Endowment Fund for Superannuates of The Methodist Episcopal Church, South) held by the General Board of Pension and Health Benefits of The United Methodist Church, Incorporated in Missouri, shall be distributed on account of service of conference claimants rendered in an annual conference of The United Methodist Church; provided, however, that such distribution shall be restricted to annual conferences that, directly or through their predecessor annual conferences, participated in raising this fund, in proportion to the number of approved years of annuity responsibility of each annual conference as shall be determined by the General Board of Pension and Health Benefits.
12. To distribute on the basis it determines the appropriations from the net earnings of the publishing interests that are contributed to the pension programs of The United Methodist Church and of the several annual conferences.
13. To create such legal entities in order to obtain, accept, receive, manage, and administer any and all assets or property, absolute or in trust, for the purpose of providing for, aiding in, and contributing to the support, relief, assistance, and pension, welfare, and other benefits for clergy of this denomination, lay workers of the various units of the Church, and their families and for other purposes stated in the trust instrument.
14. To discharge its fiduciary duties with respect to a benefit fund, plan, or program solely in the interest of the participants and beneficiaries and for the exclusive purpose of providing benefits to participants and their beneficiaries and defraying reasonable expenses of administering the plan, with the care, skill, prudence, and diligence under the circumstances then prevailing that a prudent person acting in a like capacity and familiar with such matters would use in the conduct of an enterprise of a like character and with like aims.
15. To receive, hold, manage, merge, consolidate, administer, invest, and reinvest all connectional relief, support, and benefit funds. The general board is encouraged to invest in institutions, companies, corporations, or funds that make a positive contribution toward the realization of the goals outlined in the Social Principles of the Church, subject to other provisions of the Discipline, and with due regard to any and all special contracts, agreements, and laws applicable thereto. Among the tools the general board may use are shareholder advocacy, selective divestment, and advocacy of corporate disinvestment from certain countries or fields of business.34
16. To receive, hold, manage, administer, and invest and reinvest, by and through its constituent corporations, endowment funds or other funds of an annual conference, local church, board, agency, or other unit affiliated with The United Methodist Church that have been designated for the funding of relief, support, or benefit funds, plans, or programs, and endowment funds or other funds of such units not so designated. The general board is encouraged to invest in institutions, companies, corporations, or funds that make a positive contribution toward the realization of the goals outlined in the Social Principles of the Church; provided, however, that at no time shall any part of the principal of the endowment funds be appropriated by the general board for any other purpose. The general board shall annually provide to such units an accounting of such funds.
17. To receive any gift, devise, or bequest made or intended for beneficiaries of The United Methodist Church, being the legal successor to and vested with the legal title to any and all such gifts, devises, and bequests. If the language or terms of any gift, devise, or bequest are inexact or ambiguous, the general board shall dispose of or administer the same in the manner deemed most equitable according to the apparent intent of the donor as determined by the general board after careful inquiry into the circumstances in connection with the making of such gift, devise, or bequest, and after granting full opportunity to all interested parties to be heard, after due and timely written notice of the time and place of hearing. Such notice shall be mailed to each and all interested parties through their respectively known representatives, at their last known addresses.
18. To collect, receive, and administer such gifts, devises, and bequests, and other funds as may be specifically designated to any constituent corporation of the general board by donors, subject to the rules, regulations, and policies of the general board with respect thereto. All undesignated gifts, devises, bequests, and donations shall be collected, received, and administered under the direction of the general board.
19. To charge the various trusts, funds, plans, and programs for which it is responsible an administrative fee for its general services and to charge reasonable and appropriate transactional fees for specific services provided to a unit of the Church or to a participant or beneficiary. The general board shall not use for operational or administrative purposes moneys allocated from any of the general Church funds of The United Methodist Church.
20. To create, administer, and encourage funding for the programs of the Central Conference Pension Initiative, in consultation with the General Council on Finance and Administration, and supported by a multi-agency task force.
21. To cause its operations to be carried on and the objectives defined above to be achieved in such manner by use of such procedures as the general board may from time to time determine to be necessary, advisable, or appropriate, with full power and authority in the premises to take all such action and to do all such other acts and things as may be required or found to be advisable.
34. See Judicial Council Decision 720.