The following questions were asked at the Pre-Conference Briefing held online April 30.
Does the diversity mentioned in the Ministry Report include diversity in ideology, world views, and educational status?
Yes, when considering diversity, the Discipleship Council and other Conference leaders take care to be inclusive of all people. The question about inclusion on the Discipleship Ministries Report says, “Our congregation is shaped by the community in all of its dimensions of diversity (age, color, disability, economic condition, ethnicity, gender identity and expression, immigration status, intellectual differences, national origin, racial identity, and sexual orientation.)”
When young people are referenced in the Ministry Report, does that include both youth and young adults?
Yes, young people’s ministry includes youth and young adults.
How can a church confirm that its Ministry Report was received and how can someone see a copy of that report?
The reports were received when church conference reports were electronically submitted. As such, church leaders have access to the submitted report through Arena. If you need help, please contact your district administrator.
Council on Finance and Administration
Two income numbers were mentioned in the proposed 2023 budget: $12.5 million and $18 million. Why was that?
The $12.5 million figure represents income received from mission shares. The $18 million includes other forms of income, like grants.
As different factors change throughout the year, how often does CFA review the budget and adjust as needed? If, for instance, churches leave the BWC and join the Global Methodist Church, will this budget be reviewed and adjusted to reflect that loss of income?
The CFA and the Finance Office review the budget monthly to monitor the performance against the budget to determine if adjustments are needed. If a significant event occurs, CFA will approve a revised spending plan to address the issue.
Is the proposed Mission Shares formula based on 2021 expenses or will a special multi-year average be used to calculate the base?
During the pandemic, in 2022, we used a multi-year average. For 2023, we will return to a single year calculation that will be based on statistical data reported for 2021.
You mentioned "potential disaffiliations,” have you heard from churches planning to disaffiliate?
A disaffiliation update will be provided at Annual Conference that will fully address this question.
Board of Pensions and Health Benefits
How much is the housing allowance for retirees?
The housing allowance for retirees is established in the resolution approved each year by the Annual Conference in accordance with IRS requirements. It is item #5 in this year's Board of Pensions Recommendations.
The pre-1982 benefit increase of 2.5 percent for retirees seems low considering inflation. Can it be reconsidered?
There are many factors evaluated as the Board establishes the pre-1982 increase in the Past Service Rate. The primary factor is to ensure this benefit keeps pace with active clergy average compensation within the Conference. This control has ensured that this benefit remains very well-funded for BWC retirees.
Rev. James mentioned a number of benefits resources that are available online. Where can I find them?
Current and past copies of Benefits Insights, a newsletter from the BWC’s Board of Pensions and Health Benefits, is online at https://www.bwcumc.org/administration/benefits/. Wespath offers a number of resources on physical, financial, emotional, spiritual and social wellbeing at https://www.wespath.org/health-well-being/health-well-being-resources.
Equitable Compensation Commission
Is there a recommendation for a salary increase for part-time clergy or is this managed differently?
Salary increases for part-time clergy are traditionally decided between the district superintendent and the church’s Staff-Parish Relations Committee and are typically based on a percentage of a full-time appointment.
Over the past several years, the Equitable Compensation Commission has limited increases for years of service to 15 years. Can it be extended to 25 years? Can the Commission develop the current service increments relevant to the proper grades (or years) – like the federal and county governments – and report to the upcoming annual conference for adoption?
These questions will be taken back to the Commission for its review. However, it should be noted that churches can continue to give raises to pastors after 15 years of service.
Boy Scouts of America Bankruptcy Suit
Regarding the BSA settlement, is the BWC involvement based on BWC churches sponsoring Scouting programs?
The BWC involvement in the BSA settlement is based on the number of survivor claims that were received by the bankruptcy court that cited a relationship between the Scouts activity and a BWC church. The Baltimore-Washington Conference's allocated share of the overall UMC settlement payment is proportionate to the number of pre-1976 survivor claims filed that implicate Baltimore-Washington Conference local churches.
When is final court approval of the BSA settlement expected? Are there any potential stumbling blocks that we should be aware of?
The Bankruptcy Court is expected to rule on the reorganization plan over the next couple of months. The Bankruptcy Court's ruling is subject to appeal, but we are unaware of any particular stumbling blocks.
For a survivor to receive financial benefits, do they just need to file a claim? Have those claims been verified and what was the process?
Not yet. The claims verification process will be defined by the bankruptcy court as part of the overall review of the reorganization plan.
For churches that sponsor Scouts BSA troops, have all the troop leaders completed their Safe Sanctuary program in addition to the detailed program that the BSA requires?
Both the local church and the BSA have policies in place to ensure this training is completed.
How do churches partner with the Boy Scouts of America in future charter agreements?
A new model charter agreement, along with an optional facilities use agreement, is being negotiated with BSA leadership presently and is expected to be ready for use before the currently extended agreements expire at the end of June.
Resolution to Designate Salem Baltimore Hispanic UMC, as a Mission of the Baltimore-Washington Conference and Congregation in Transformation
Does this designation have a financial impact?
Indirectly, yes. As a mission church, the conference policy sets the church’s mission shares at 10 percent of their base expenses. The church is also eligible for other assistance from conference grants.
Resolution to Establish a Conference Team to Assess the Disposition of Proceeds from the Sale of Closed Black Church Property
Why did the Connectional Table vote non-concurrence on this resolution? What were their concerns?
The discussion at Connectional Table surfaced two items of concern. The creation of a new committee to address an item of business for the conference adds to the bureaucracy. The current path is to work with the current committee structure that has oversight for a given item of business. The resolution also does not honor the intent of the 2019 approved motion that set aside the proceeds from the sale of African-American churches until after the 2020 General Conference, which has now been either postponed or cancelled.
Resolution Endorsing the Christmas Covenant
Does supporting the Christmas Covenant revoke our support of the Protocol of Reconciliation and Grace through Separation?
No. The Christmas Covenant is complimentary to the Protocol. The BWC delegation is supporting both.
Does the Christmas Covenant remove the requirement for the United States Region to adhere to the Book of Discipline as it is written?
If the Christmas Conference is adopted, the seven Central Conferences will become regional conferences and the United States will become a regional conference as well. This would be enabling legislation, specifics would follow.
Resolution Encouraging a More Robust Discussion of the Science Related to Global Warming
Why does this resolution recommend only two resources when there are vast resources out there? These resources seem to contradict the majority of scientific research on the topic.
The maker of the resolution, Roger Kuhn, believes these are some of the best resources that present a comprehensive view that will round out people’s appreciation of climate change science. The aim of the resolution is for members to read and reflect upon these and other resources to gain a thorough understanding of the science related to global warming.