Q&A from the PreConference Briefing
The following questions were asked of Conference leaders at the PreConference Briefing Sept. 25, 2021.
Council on Finance and Administration
Q: Not a question, rather, I propose that the mission share for 2022 be the lowest of the three years cited. As most churches going forward will be reducing their budgets. The anomalies of 2020 will become more the norm. As a church that paid 100 percent throughout the pandemic, we believe this is only fair.
A: The CFA meets in October and this suggestion will be brought to their attention. We do question the assumption that the anomalies due to the pandemic will become the norm. We do not know what the norm will be. Some churches could well rebound, which would create inequalities; this is why the CFA adopted the three-year average.
Q: What would be the 2022 budget request be if the lowest mission share bases were used for each church over the last three years, from 2018-2020?
A: The budget request would be $11,900,000.
Q: Will churches who did not report PPP (Payroll Protection Plan) income in 2020 have their statistical reports and mission shares corrected?
A: The results we have today have already been verified by the church’s finance chair and pastor. There is no further action planned to revise the stats that were submitted and verified.
Q: What about the apportionments that have already been paid 100% by churches in all three years. Are they going to pay additional apportionments for those years with this proposed change? Is this retroactive?
A: No, past mission shares will not be recalculated.
Q: Will members be able to vote the three-year year average proposal for mission-share determination up or down?
A: The formula is part of the CFA recommendations. As in prior years, it is part of the budget and will be approved or voted down as part of the overall budget.
Q: Just to be clear, this report is just for the Baltimore-Washington Conference and the Peninsula-Delaware Conference will have its own report?
A: Yes, that is correct. While affiliated, the two have not merged financial operations. One element should be noted, within the episcopal office income line item, the Peninsula-Delaware Conference does provide $100,000, as it did previously with the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference.
Q: Doesn’t the alliance between the Baltimore-Washington and Peninsula-Delaware conferences have to be approved by the Northeastern Jurisdiction? Does this recommendation “put the cart before the horse”?
A: The move to affiliate with the Peninsula-Delaware Conference is an interim action that is enabled in advance of full approval by the NEJ. It was made necessary because the postponement of the Jurisdictional Conference and the retirement of two bishops. In this instance, the decision on how to provide episcopal coverage falls under the auspices of the College of Bishops.
Equitable Salary and Compensation
Q: For local churches having their Church Conferences before Annual Conference, the clergy compensations will be voted on with the current numbers. Will local churches' clergy compensations be subject to change after the Annual Conference if the recommendation passes?
A: The clergy compensation numbers presented in the Church Conference reports already reflect the recommendations made by the Commission on Equitable Salary and Compensation. (See the proposed 2022 clergy compensation tables when assembling the pastor compensation forms.)
Report on Disaffiliation
Q: I don't recall seeing anything about this report at the Connectional Table. Why were Connectional Table members not given the opportunity to respond or ask questions?
A: Since the disaffiliation report is informational only, and not being voted on by Annual Conference, it was not on the agenda to seek the concurrence of the Connectional Table. But information on the disaffiliation process will be widely distributed soon.
Q: In the disaffiliation process, where do the Licensed Local Pastor salaries fall into this three-year rolling average? How do churches under the leadership of the LLP (which are normally small churches with part-time clergy) find themselves in this rolling average?
A: The compensation for the Licensed Local Pastors and their predecessors is calculated for the last 20 years. That amount is then compared to the total clergy compensation for the same 20-year period. The percentage share of the three-year rolling average of unfunded benefit liabilities is then assigned to the local church based on that comparison.
Q: How many BWC churches have disaffiliated or are in the process of leaving? How many within have begun disaffiliation throughout the denomination?
A: Within the BWC, none have disaffiliated, one church has asked for information and begun the discernment process. In the denomination, we don’t have the figures, but at almost every annual conference is having experiences with one or more churches considering disaffiliation.
Resolution to Create a BWC Cemetery Association
Q: Will the proposed cemetery association help the cemeteries of all local churches?
A: No, that’s not financially possible. This association would assist three historic cemeteries cared for by several congregations, many of which have closed. The proposed cemeteries include Mt. Auburn, Mt. Olivet and Mt. Hebron.
Q: The resolution proposes funding by the use of funds from closed churches. What percentage of these funds are being proposed? How will this affect funding for establishing new faith communities?
A: The CFA report showed the available funds include $5.4M from closed churches. With this level of reserves, the Trustees believe they are in a good position to be able to fund both the care for the cemeteries and the funding of new faith communities. The plan is to create an endowment fund, which in three to five years could provide the necessary funds for cemetery care.
Resolution on Creating a Green Baltimore-Washington Conference
Q: Will a list of appropriate study resources and a directory of UMC Earth Keepers be made available to local churches?
A: Yes. A highly recommended resource is the book “Climate Justice: A call to Hope and Action.”
Resolution on Maryland Environmental Human Rights Amendment
Q: Where can we find more information on the Constitutional amendment?
A: Visit http://mdehr.org/
Resolution to Endorse the Protocol on Reconciliation and Grace through Separation
Q: Could you say something more about why separation and reconciliation are not contradictory?
A: Separation doesn't mean anger and division, but rather, an end to strife; We can be reconciled in Christ but working on separate paths. In addition, we need to be asking one other what would it be like to not call out each other’s faults, but to help the other church succeed? Deb-"what would it look like for each of you to help the other succeed?"