Discipline ¶1506

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Annual Conference Administration
¶  1506. Powers, Duties, and Responsibilities of Annual Conferences-1. The annual conference, on recommendation of the conference Board of Pensions, shall determine the admissibility and validity of service approved, or compensation entering the contribution base, for pension credit and the payments, disallowances, and deductions thereunder, subject to the provisions of the Discipline and the rules and regulations of the pension and benefit funds, plans, and programs of The United Methodist Church.35
2. a) Service rendered prior to January 1, 1982, by a clergyperson in The United Methodist Church, including service rendered in either or both of the uniting churches prior to Church union, shall be approved for pension credit in accordance with provisions of the Discipline in effect and applicable thereto, or as subsequently amended, at the time such service was rendered. Pension for such service shall be provided in accordance with the past service provisions of the Ministerial Pension Plan.
    b) Pension for full-time service rendered by a clergyperson
in The United Methodist Church prior to January 1, 1982, shall be
not less than an amount based upon pension credit for service prior to January 1, 1982, and the benefit levels in effect on December 31, 1981; provided, however, that the pension of a clergyperson whose member-ship was terminated prior to January 1, 1982, shall be determined in accordance with the provisions of the Discipline, pension funds, plans, and programs in effect at the time of such termination.
    c) Pensions earned by bishops (elected by a jurisdictional conference) and other clergy, and protection benefits for such bishops and other clergy in The United Methodist Church after December 31, 1981, shall be provided in accordance with the provisions of the Ministerial Pension Plan, amended and restated effective January 1, 2007, as the Clergy Retirement Security Program, and the Comprehensive Protection Plan.36
  
3. For service rendered prior to January 1, 1982, the following years of approved service in an annual conference of The United Methodist Church shall be counted for pension credit subject to the conditions stated in this paragraph:
    a) By a clergyperson who is a probationary member or who is in the effective relation as an associate member or a member in full connection in the annual conference: (1) as pastor, associate or assistant pastor, or other clergyperson in a pastoral charge; (2) as district superintendent, presiding elder, conference president, conference superintendent, or other full-time salaried official of the conference; (3) under appointment beyond the local church to an institution, organization, or agency that in the judgment of the annual conference rendered to it some form of service, direct or indirect, sufficient to warrant pension credit, or to a community church, or as a conference-approved evangelist; provided, however, that such institution, organization, agency, community church, or evangelist accepts and pays such apportionments as the conference may require, with the recommendation that this apportionment shall be not less than twelve times the annuity rate of the conference; and provided further, that pension related to such service may be arranged through one of the pension funds or plans administered by the General Board of Pension and Health Benefits; (4) as a student appointed to attend school, but only if the clergyperson serves subsequently with pension credit in an annual conference or conferences for three or more years under appointment other than to attend school, such credit as a student not to exceed three years; provided, however, that all years for which pension credit was given under legislation in effect prior to the 1972 General Conference, on account of appointment to attend school, shall be counted in determining the pension claim thereon; and provided further, that if a clergyperson is again appointed to attend school after having served under appointment for six consecutive years as a clergy member in full connection with pension credit in an annual conference or conferences other than under appointment to attend school, pension credit shall be given for up to but not more than three additional years under appointment to attend school if the clergyperson serves subsequently with pension credit in an annual conference or conferences for three or more additional years under appointment other than to attend school; (5) as a clergyperson on sabbatical leave, provided that not less than five of the ten years just preceding the granting of such leave were served with pension credit in the annual conference that grants the sabbatical leave; and (6) as a clergyperson on disability leave subsequent to the 1968 Uniting Conference, not to exceed fifteen years.37
b) By a person classified by the board of ordained ministry as eligible to be appointed as a full-time local pastor, and by an approved supply pastor prior to Church union in 1968, as a pastor or assistant pastor of a pastoral charge in full-time service under appointment; provided, however, that such credit shall be conditional and subject to provisions hereinafter stated in this paragraph.38
c) By an ordained minister from another Christian denomination who has not attained the age of mandatory retirement for a conference clergy member, who has not retired from the denomination, and who is approved by the annual conference on recommendation of the board of ordained ministry as provided in ¶ 346.2 who renders full-time service under appointment as a pastor or assistant pastor subject to provisions hereinafter stated in this paragraph.
d) In calculating fractions of years of service for pension credit earned prior to January 1, 1982, the following formula shall be used:
    (1) Any period of up to and including forty-five days shall not be counted.
(2) Forty-six days up to and including 136 days shall be counted as one quarter of a year.
    (3) One hundred thirty-seven days up to and including 228 days shall be counted as one half of a year.
     (4) Two hundred twenty-nine days up to and including 319 days shall be counted as three quarters of a year.
(5) Three hundred twenty days up to and including 365 days shall be counted as one year.
  4. Concerning the normal conditions for pension credit and pro rata pension credit, the following provisions shall apply for service rendered prior to January 1, 1982, in determining approval for pension credit, eligibility for pension, and allocation of responsibility:
    a) Normal Conditions-The normal conditions required of a clergyperson for full pension credit shall be:
    (1) That full-time service is rendered by a person appointed to a field of labor under provisions of ¶ 338.1;
(2) That this person not be attending school as a regular student except as provided in ¶ 1506.3a(4);
(3) That this person not be on leave of absence;
(4) That this person not be substantially employed in work other than that to which he or she is appointed by the bishop; and
(5) That this person receive not less cash support per annum from all Church and/or conference-related sources than that provided in the schedule of equitable salaries adopted by the annual conference for those in this person’s classification.
    b) Proportional Pension Credit-Effective as of the closing day of the 1980 annual conference session, pro rata pension credit may be granted to persons appointed to less than full-time service under the provisions of ¶ 338.2 by a three-fourths vote of those present and voting in the annual conference session on recommendation of the conference board of pensions. Such pension credit shall be in one-quarter year increments; provided, however, that no one individual receives in excess of one year of pension credit per annum.
c) Full Pension Credit-Full pension credit may be granted for persons not meeting some or all of the above conditions by a three-fourths vote of those present and voting in the annual conference on recommendation of the conference board of pensions.39
d) Service as a chaplain on full-time duty prior to January 1, 1947, which previous legislation includes as eligible to be counted in determining the annuity claim on an annual conference, shall be so recognized.
    e) Pension responsibility on account of the appointment of a clergy member of an annual conference to attend school prior to 1982 shall be allocated to the conference or conferences in which the clergy member shall first thereafter render six years of service under appointment to a local church, to conference staff, as a district super- intendent, or to an appointment beyond the local church normally considered to be eligible for pension by the annual conference. This allocation procedure shall continue through December 31, 1987, at which time any unallocated years shall be assigned on a pro rata basis to the conference or conferences in which service under appointment to a local church, to conference staff, as a district superintendent, or to an appointment beyond the local church normally considered to be eligible for pension coverage by the annual conference totaled less than six years; provided, however, that such allocation shall not apply in cases where pension payments were in effect prior to January 1, 1985, on the basis of the allocation of responsibility under previous legislation.
f) Service of a local pastor prior to 1982 may be approved for pension credit only by vote of the annual conference, on recommendation of the conference board of pensions, after consultation with the district superintendents. If such credit is granted, it should be included under the Discipline question, “What other personal notation should be made?”
g) Upon recommendation of the conference board of pensions and by a three-fourths vote of those present and voting in the annual conference, pension credit may be granted to a clergy member in full connection, probationary member, or associate member of the conference on account of full-time service previously rendered as an approved local pastor or approved supply pastor to an institution, organization, or agency, which in the judgment of the annual conference rendered to it some form of service sufficient to warrant pension credit; provided, however, that such institution, organization, or agency shall accept and pay such apportionment as the conference may require.
h) On recommendation of the conference board of pensions and approval by the annual conference, appointments beyond the local church shall be listed in the conference journal as follows:
(1) with pension responsibilities on the annual conference, or (2) with pension responsibility on the institution or agency served. If at any session the conference fails to make such listing, it may be done subsequently, whenever desirable, under the Business of the Annual Conference question, “What other personal notation should be made?”40
i) In the event of retirement under ¶ 359.2b, the pension or subsequent pension resulting from annuity rate increases for service rendered prior to January 1, 1982, shall be determined by reducing the pension (years times rate) by the lesser of: (1) one-half percent per month or fraction of a month of age less than sixty-five years attained on the date the actuarially reduced pension is to commence (or the date of such annuity rate increase), or (2) one-half percent per month for each month of difference between the assumed date at which forty years of service under appointment would have been completed and the actual date the actuarially reduced pension or annuity rate increase is to commence under ¶ 359.2b. Effective at the close of the 1988 General Conference, if retirement is granted in accordance with ¶ 359.2e, the actuarially reduced pension shall be calculated from the deferred retirement date. Such actuarially reduced pension shall be calculated by the General Board of Pension and Health Benefits and allocated pro rata to the annual conference or conferences that are charged with the pension responsibility.41
  5. a) A pension shall be payable on account of pension credit for service prior to 1982 as a full-time local pastor or supply pastor if:
(1) the local pastor shall have been admitted as an associate or probationary member or member in full connection in an annual conference and has subsequently been placed in the retired relation by the conference, or (2) the local pastor shall have rendered no less than four consecutive years of full-time service with pension credit for service prior to 1982 or with full participation in the Comprehensive Protection Plan since 1981, or a combination thereof, in one annual conference.
    b) On recommendation of the conference board of pensions, a pension shall be payable on account of pension credit for service prior to 1982 for an ordained minister from another Christian denomination who shall have rendered not less than four consecutive years of full-time service with pension credit for service prior to 1982 or with full participation in the Comprehensive Protection Plan since 1981, or a combination thereof, in one annual conference while qualified under ¶ 346.2, who has attained the age of voluntary retirement for a conference clergy member. (See also § 3c above.)
  6. The annual conference, on recommendation of the conference board of pensions, shall have the power to revise, correct, or adjust a clergyperson’s record of pension credit as set forth in his or her service record. Prior to the revision of such record, the General Board of Pension and Health Benefits may be requested to review relevant data and report its findings thereon. Such revisions, corrections, and adjustments shall be published in the journal of the annual conference in answer to Business of the Annual Conference questions and shall be reported to the General Board of Pension and Health Benefits by the conference board of pensions.42
7. The annual conference shall review annually the annuity rate for service rendered in the annual conference prior to January 1, 1982, for the purpose of adjusting the rate as appropriate, taking into account changes in economic conditions. Such annuity rate may remain the same or be increased without restriction. It is recommended that such rate be not less than 1 percent of the average compensation of the conference as computed by the General Board of Pension and Health Benefits. However, for plan years beginning after December 31, 1998, in no case may the annuity rate be less than eight-tenths of one percent of the average compensation of the conference. The annuity rate for approved service of local pastors shall also be determined by the conference each year and shall be the same as the rate for service of clergy members in full connection, probationary members, and associate members. A successor conference resulting from a merger involving a former Central Jurisdictional conference shall establish for all for whom it has pension responsibility the same rate for past service of clergy members in full connection, probationary members, and associate members in the former Central Jurisdiction as for service in a geographic former Methodist jurisdiction and the same rate for past service of local pastors regardless of the jurisdiction in which the service was rendered.43
8. On or before July 15, 2002, each annual conference shall develop, adopt and implement a formal funding plan for retiring its pre-1982 pension obligations. This funding plan must result in the retirement of its pre-1982 pension obligations on or before December 31, 2021. The funding plan shall identify any funds which have been designated by the annual conference and protected for the exclusive purpose of retiring its pre-1982 pension obligations. The funding plan shall: (a) address the funding for both the existing and incremental liabilities incurred by future increases in the past service rate, (b) be approved annually by the annual conference, following the receipt and inclusion of a written opinion from the General Board of Pension and Health Benefits, and (c) be published along with the written opinion of the General Board of Pension and Health Benefits in the journal of the annual conference. In addition, the General Board of Pension and Health Benefits shall present a quadrennial report to General Conference concerning the long-term pension and retiree medical liability of the denomination. In order to assist the General Board of Pension and Health Benefits in the preparation of this report, each annual conference shall provide to the General Board of Pension and Health Benefits information periodically requested by the General Board of Pension and Health Benefits concerning the long-term pension and retiree medical obligations of the particular annual conference.
9. Persons who have served full-time appointments beyond the local church under endorsement by the Division of Chaplains and Related Ministries are eligible for pension support for those years of service so served for which no other pension is provided. Such pension support shall be in accordance with the Chaplains Supplemental Pension Grant Fund or the Ministerial Pension Plan, amended and restated effective January 1, 2007, as the Clergy Retirement Security Program, under arrangements agreed to by the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry through its Division on Chaplains and Related Ministries and the General Board of Pension and Health Benefits.
10. The responsibility for pension for service approved for pension credit shall rest with the annual conference in which the service was rendered; provided, however, that in the event of mergers, unions, boundary changes, or transfers of churches, such responsibility shall rest with the successor annual conference within whose geographical boundaries the charge is located.44
11. Pension for service approved for pension credit by an annual conference shall be provided by the annual conference under one of the pension funds, plans, or programs administered by the General Board of Pension and Health Benefits of The United Methodist Church.
12. An annual conference may not make any arrangement with a life insurance company for the purchase of annuities for the benefit of individual effective or retired clergy or take any steps to nullify, in whole or in part, the pension plans and programs of The United Methodist Church by making contracts with outside parties.45
13. Other Annual Conference Organizations-a) Annual conferences, hereinafter called conferences, are authorized to establish, incorporate, and maintain investment funds, preachers’ aid societies, and organizations and funds of similar character, under such names, plans, rules, and regulations as they may determine, the directors of which shall be elected or otherwise designated by the conference, where permissible under the laws of the state of incorporation, and the income from which shall be applied to the support of the pension, health, and welfare benefit programs for clergy through the conference board of pensions.46
    b) Distributable pension, health, and welfare benefit funds from all sources shall be disbursed by or under the direction of the conference board of pensions, excepting only such funds as are otherwise restricted by specific provisions or limitations in gifts, devises, bequests, trusts, pledges, deeds, or other similar instruments, which restrictions and limitations shall be observed.
c) It shall not be permissible for any conference or permanent fund organization thereof to deprive its beneficiaries who are beneficiaries in other conferences of the privilege of sharing in the distribution of the earned income of such funds through the clearinghouse administered by the General Board of Pension and Health Benefits.
d) (1) Prior to January 1, 1982, a conference subject to the laws of the state in which it is incorporated shall have power to require from its clergy who are serving with pension credit from the conference an annual contribution to either its permanent or reserve fund or for current distribution or to a preachers aid society for the benefit of its beneficiaries, subject to the following provisions:47
      
(a) The annual payment may be made in installments as provided by the conference.
(b) The making of such payment shall not be used as the ground of contractual obligations upon the part of the conference or as the ground of any special or additional annuity claim of a clergyperson against the conference; neither shall it prevent disallowance of a clergyperson’s annuity claim by conference action.
(c) The conference may fix a financial penalty for failure of the clergyperson to pay.
(d) In case membership in the conference is terminated under the provisions of the Discipline, the conference may refund the amount so paid, in whole or in part, after hearing has been given to the clergyperson, in case such hearing is requested.
(e) Clergy entering a conference shall not be charged an initial entry fee by any organization mentioned in § a above; furthermore, the annual contribution required from a clergyperson shall not exceed an amount equal to 3 percent of the clergyperson’s support.
    (2) If a clergyperson is participating in one of the pension funds, plans, or programs administered by the General Board of Pension and Health Benefits, that individual shall not be required by the conference or by an organization thereof related to the support of beneficiaries to make any other contribution for pension purposes.
    e) Each conference, on recommendation of its conference board of pensions or one of the organizations mentioned in § a above, may select a Sunday in each year to be observed in the churches as Retired Ministers Day, in honor of the retired clergy, their spouses, and the surviving spouses of clergy in recognition of the Church’s responsibility for their support. The bishop may request each conference in the area to insert a Retired Ministers Day in its calendar.
  14. A conference board of pensions may make special grants to clergy or former clergy of an annual conference who have served under appointment in that conference; or to their spouses, former spouses, surviving former spouses, or surviving dependent children (including adult dependent children). A report of such special grants shall be made annually to the annual conference.
15. a) A former clergy member in full connection, probationary member, or associate member of an annual conference whose membership was terminated on or after January 1, 1973, and prior to January 1, 1982, after the completion of ten or more years of service
with pension credit in an annual conference or conferences, shall retain the right to receive a pension beginning the first of any month following the date the former clergyperson attains age sixty-two, based on the years of service approved for pension credit.48  Such former clergyperson’s pension shall be based on all years of service with pension credit if the former clergyperson had twenty or more such years. If less than twenty such years but at least ten years, the years used in the calculation of the benefit shall be a percentage of the approved service years; such percentage shall be determined by multiplying the credited whole years by 5 percent, resulting in 50 percent of such years for ten years of credited service and 100 percent for twenty years of such service. If pension begins prior to the age at which retirement under ¶ 359.2c could have occurred, then the provisions of ¶ 1506.4i shall apply.
    b) A former clergy member in full connection, probationary member, or associate member of an annual conference whose membership was terminated on or after January 1, 1982, after the completion of ten or more years of service under appointment in an annual conference or conferences, shall retain the right to receive a pension beginning the first day of any month coinciding with or following the date the former clergyperson attains age sixty-two, based on the years of service prior to January 1, 1982, approved for pension credit.49  If pension begins prior to the age at which retirement under ¶ 356.2c could have occurred, then the provisions of ¶ 1506.4i shall apply.
c) Effective at the close of the 1976 General Conference, former clergy members in full connection, probationary members, and associate members of the annual conference whose membership was terminated on or after such date shall have any vested pension benefits calculated at the annuity rate in effect on the date such person’s membership is terminated.
d) Clergy members in full connection, probationary members, and associate members in an annual conference who voluntarily withdraw from the ministry of The United Methodist Church to enter the ministry of another church or denomination, on the attainment of age sixty-two and on recommendation of the conference board of pensions and a three-fourths vote of those present and voting in any annual conference in which approved service was rendered prior to January 1, 1982, or the legal successor, may be recognized and granted pensions on account of approved service rendered in that conference. If pension begins prior to the age at which retirement under ¶ 356.2c could have occurred, then the provisions of ¶ 1506.4i shall apply.
  16. The responsibility for providing pension on account of service rendered prior to January 1, 1982, in a missionary conference, provisional annual conference, or former mission within the United States or Puerto Rico that has been approved for pension credit shall rest jointly with: (a) the missionary conference, provisional annual conference, or former mission concerned, (b) the General Board of Pension and Health Benefits with funds provided by the General Council on Finance and Administration, and (c) the General Board of Global Ministries. The revenue for pension purposes covering such service shall be provided by the aforesaid parties in accordance with such plan or plans as may be mutually agreed to by them.
17. a) A clergyperson who has been granted the retired relation in a central conference or an affiliated autonomous church shall be entitled to a pension from a conference or conferences in the United States or Puerto Rico for the years of approved service rendered therein upon attainment of the required age or the completion of the required years of approved service. Such clergyperson shall notify the General Board of Pension and Health Benefits upon his or her retirement. The General Board of Pension and Health Benefits shall certify the years of approved service to each annual conference concerned. Payments due thereunder shall be collected from the conference concerned and forwarded to the claimant by the General Board of Pension and Health Benefits in such manner as it may deem most expedient and economical.
    b) In the event of the death of such clergyperson prior to the annuity starting date, the spouse shall be eligible for a benefit equal to 70 percent (75, 85, or 100 percent if elected by the applicable conference) of the clergyperson’s formula benefit. Such spouse must have been married to the clergyperson at the time of the clergyperson’s retirement and the marriage must have taken place prior to the cessation of service rendered by the clergyperson while under episcopal appointment. If no spouse survives or is eligible for a benefit, the Service Annuity Accumulation will be paid in accordance with the provision of the Ministerial Pension Plan or its successor.
  18. Pension and benefit contributions are the responsibility of the Plan Sponsor  for participants in the Ministerial Pension Plan, (amended and restated effective January 1, 2007 as the Clergy Retirement Security Program) and the Comprehensive Protection Plan.  Unless otherwise determined by vote of the annual, missionary, or provisional conference, the treasurer of a local church or pastoral charge shall remit such contributions related to the participant’s compensation that is provided from local church funds to the Plan Sponsor. If compensation from the local church or pastoral charge is supplemented from other church sources, pension and benefit contributions related to such supplements shall be paid from that same source. If the entire compensation for a participant is from a salary-paying unit other than a local church or a pastoral charge, the unit responsible for compensation shall remit the pension and benefit contributions to the Plan Sponsor. Nothing in this paragraph shall be understood as preventing an annual, missionary, or provisional conference from raising part or all of the annual contributions for the pension program of its pastors or the Comprehensive Protection Plan by an apportionment to the churches of the conference and remitting payments to the General Board of Pension and Health Benefits on behalf of all the pastors covered; there is no time limit on this provision.
19. Actual compensation, limited by the denominational average compensation, is the basic contribution base of the Ministerial Pension Plan. Other options setting the contribution base as actual
compensation limited by 150 percent of the denominational average compensation, or actual compensation, may be elected by the annual conference or other participating groups as they may determine. Actual compensation, limited by 200 percent of the denominational average compensation, is the basic contribution base of the Comprehensive Protection Plan.
20. An annual conference may establish a pension support fund to be administered by the conference board of pensions. Local churches may request pension assistance from this fund when special circumstances arise that result in nonpayment of pension contributions and/or apportionments for pension and benefit purposes. The board shall present its estimate of the amount required to the conference council on finance and administration, which shall include it in its recommendation to the conference. If the amount is approved by the conference, it shall be apportioned as an item of clergy support.
21. The annual conference board of pensions, in consultation with the General Board of Pension and Health Benefits, shall have the responsibility to enroll clergy of the annual conference in the Ministerial Pension Plan and the Comprehensive Protection Plan in accordance with the provisions of such plans.
  22. Optional provisions contained in the Ministerial Pension Plan and Comprehensive Protection Plan may be adopted by vote of the annual conference subsequent to the receipt of a recommendation from the conference board of pensions.
  The recommended contribution rate for service rendered after December 31, 1985, for the Ministerial Pension Plan is 12 percent of the contribution base. However, for service rendered after December 31, 1985, the percentage of the contribution base that may be paid to fund the Ministerial Pension Plan in any one year will be limited to:
    a) Twelve percent, if the then current annuity rate is at least nine-tenths of 1 percent of the conference average compensation, as computed by the General Board of Pension and Health Benefits.
b) For the period January 1, 1986, through December 31, 1989, not more than 11 percent, if the then current annuity rate is at least eight tenths of 1 percent, but less than nine-tenths of 1 percent of the conference average compensation as computed by the General Board of Pension and Health Benefits.
c) For the period January 1, 1986, through December 31, 1989, not more than 10 percent, if the then current annuity rate is less than eight-tenths of one percent of the conference average compensation as computed by the General Board of Pension and Health Benefits.
d) Effective January 1, 1990, 11 percent, if the then current annuity rate is less than nine-tenths of one percent of the conference average compensation as computed by the General Board of Pension and Health Benefits.
  
35. See Judicial Council Decisions 81, 360, 379.
36. See Judicial Council Decision 502.
37. See Judicial Council Decision 180.
38. See Judicial Council Decisions 73, 206.
39. See Judicial Council Decision 386.
40. See Judicial Council Decision 95.
41. See Judicial Council Decision 428.
42. See Judicial Council Decision 386.
43. See Judicial Council Decisions 360, 389.
44. See Judicial Council Decisions 203, 389, 523.
45. See Judicial Council Decision 716.
46. See Judicial Council Decision 218.
47. See Judicial Council Decision 181.
48. See Judicial Council Decision 717.
49. See Judicial Council Decision 717.