If You Don't Pay

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Dear Readers,

I just finished reading happening from the UMC General Conference

An article titled “Judicial Council rules on apportionment question” By Neill Caldwell* Included the following:

In its ruling, the council affirmed that the duties of a pastor include “leading the congregation in the fulfillment of its mission through full and faithful payment of all apportioned ministerial support, administrative and benevolent funds.”

The decision continued: “The pastor of a church has an important role in leading a local church to … pay its apportionments in full, including the apportionment for the Episcopal Fund, but the pastor does not carry this responsibility alone. The pastor of the church is just one of many individuals, lay and clergy, who have responsibility for providing leadership to a local congregation and thereby leading a local church toward full payment of apportionments. To hold the pastor of a church personally accountable for a chargeable offense when a church under his/her leadership does not pay its apportionments in full, including the requirement for proportionality in the case of the Episcopal Fund, is unjust.

What are your thoughts on this? If the report is not round then is it down, down, down for the count?

Be Blessed! WHS

-- Anonymous, May 05, 2004


That is exactly the way it should be. The pastor is the shepherd, the leader, the CEO. All obligations of the church must be met. The AME Church is the same.

-- Anonymous, May 05, 2004

Well, the only difference is that the majority of the United Methodist pastors have half a chance, particularly since they have a guaranteed salary package+benefits. What about those AME pastors that are pastoring small churches that cannot afford to pay them a salary? Usually those churches don't take in a substantial enough offerring to be able to cover the assessment, which leaves the pastor in the bind to have to come out of his/her own pocket to cover the expenses, or get bought up on charges. I say that to say that we really cannot compare ourselves to the United Methodists, UCC, Presbyterians, Lutherans, etc. until we can offer a guaranteed salary package to our pastors. A guaranteed salary package in the AME church does have a direct correlation with the church assessment.

-- Anonymous, May 06, 2004

Sister Jackson:

"Usually those churches don't take in a substantial enough offerring to be able to cover the assessment, which leaves the pastor in the bind to have to come out of his/her own pocket to cover the expenses, or get bought up on charges."

As a Pastor of a small church, I understand your point CLEARLY! However, I think (in that case) it is incumbent upon the Annual Conference leadership (Bishop, PE's, Finance Committee) to recognize the condition of each church and adjust the assessments accordingly.

IT IS IMPORTANT TO NOTE: that it isn't just the local churches that are held accountable - if the Presiding Elder districts don't have their money, the PE has to come out of pocket or risk losing his/her job and if the Bishops don't have their money, they can be moved or located, as well.

In the final analysis, we Pastors KNOW that the assessments are an inescapable obligation. My merry little band knows that the 1st dollar in the checkbook goes to the assessments and we put that money away ahead of everything except the mortgage money and fire insurance. Even ahead of my salary.

Many of us know Pastors who tithe more than their church pays them and/or whose unreimbursed expenses run into the thousands of dollars annually (guilty!). That is a fact of life in the small church arena.

-- Anonymous, May 06, 2004

Having grown up in the parsonage of the AME Church, most of which were small, it has been my experience that the reason Local Churches fail to pay their assessment is not because they are too small or cannot come up with the funds to pay.

Generally the rule in a Methodist Church is that when the Conference is responsive to the needs of the members of the Local Church, they find sufficient means to support both the pastor and meet their Conference assessments as well.

By the same token when funds dry up it is usually an indication that something is wrong. The number ONE reason is that the pastor is no longer suited to the needs of the church. Thus, the congregation has requested that a change be made, yet their request has gone unheard. The Elder and the Bishop adamantly refuses to make the change. Thus, the people use the method they know will eventually be heard and that is the closing of their pocketbooks. Sometimes even the utilities of the church get cut off and individual member have to pay the utilities or the pastor's salary or both.

There is also no reason for an Elder to not hold a quarter once every three months in every church to which he/she is assigned, even if this has to be done during one of the other six days of the week. Again the churches feel the Conference has abused them when the Elder holds a Quarter only once or twice a year, yet that same Elder is paid six quarters, not four, by them.

Does this mean that they also are ignoring their obligation to support the work of the Church of God? The asnswer to this is absolutely not. In most cases they pay their offering at other churches, charities and the like. They just don't pay it to the Conference or Local Church.

I am presently aware of at least four churches both large and small where this is exactly what is happening. When the people are happy and their needs are met they find a way to pay or raise the funds to see that the "shepherd"(of ALL the flock) is not in need and that the Conference assessment is also fully paid.

So when this does not happen perhaps we might do well to ask the question of the Apostles, " Lord, Is It I?"

-- Anonymous, May 06, 2004

I fully support the system. Each church is responsible for carrying its part of the financial obligations of the Connection Church. This should be paid from the Tithe and Offerings of the members. If this will not support the needs the church should do its best. For the system to work correctly, the Pastor nor any individual should NOT pay out out pocket for the expenses of the church. If they wish to put this in the offering, so be it; but they no longer have control and the church makes the decision on how to disburse the money. The pastor must be willing to accept the consequences.

Likewise, the Presiding Elder should not pay the assessments him/herself. This defeats the system. god will provide only if we trust him and allow him to do so. If the church cannot pay it responsibilities within this type of system, then the load is too heavy and God will relieve it in his own way. The church is bigger than the Pastor, the PE, and the Bishop. The system will work if we let go and let God.

Be Blessed

-- Anonymous, May 06, 2004

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