REPORT OF TASK FORCE ON APPORTIONMENTS
Christ United Methodist Church, Memphis TN
Majority and Minority Reports
June 2, 1998 (revised 06/12/98)
On Monday, July 6, the Administrative Board will make a decision concerning two apportionments (financial assessments) requested by the national and state levels of the United Methodist Church. The Board will decide whether to pay those apportionments or to re-direct those monies to other less-controversial United Methodist mission projects.
The two items are World Service ($70,198) and the Interdenominational Cooperation Fund ($1788). World Service is a composite designation for funds going to most of our national and international boards and agencies. Interdenominational Cooperation Fund primarily supports the National Council of Churches and the World Council of Churches. The total of these two apportionments ($71,986) represents approximately 8.5% of the total apportioned requests ($846,837) from Christ Church in 1998.
For almost a year, a special Task Force on Apportionments, chaired by Ed Roberson, has been investigating this matter. The Task Force, by a vote of 6 to 4, recommended that the church not pay those two apportionments, but instead redirect that money to other United Methodist missional projects. Four members of the Task Force, recommending that the two apportionments be paid, submitted a minority report.
In addition to Ed Roberson, members of the Task Force are: Don Bourland, Hank Shelton, Boyd Rhodes, Suzanne Schaeffer, P.D. Miller, D.A. Noel, Phil Mischke, Tom Dyer, and Miller Delgadillo.
On June 1, the Executive Committee dealt with this matter for the second time. The Executive Committee sided with the majority, voting 11-2 to recommend that those two apportionments be redirected to other United Methodist missional causes.
On July 6, the Administrative Board will make a final decision in this matter. The entire congregation is asked to pray that our leaders will have an extra measure of wisdom, discernment, and courage.
The charge of the Task Force on Apportionments was to make inquiry, collect information, deliberate and make a recommendation to the Administrative Board as to whether, as a matter of conscience and faithful stewardship, Christ United Methodist Church should withhold or "redirect" a portion of its Annual Conference apportionments due to certain decisions, pronouncements, programs, expenditures and actions of The United Methodist Church, through certain of its General Boards and Agencies, including, but not limited to, the General Board of Church and Society and the General Board of Global Ministries; and if so, how much and in what manner should this be accomplished.
1. What are apportionments in The United Methodist Church?
2. What has CUMC paid in recent years in apportionments?
3. What portion of these payments were applied to World Service and Conference Benevolences, which would include funds to the Boards and Agencies under consideration?
4. How were the funds divided between Conference Benevolences at the local level and World Service at the national level?
5. What other funds paid at the local level to the national church should be subject to review?
6. Can CUMC pay its Conference Benevolences and not pay the amount allocated to The World Service Fund?
7. Has CUMC always paid 100% of its apportionments?
8. What would be the consequences of withholding that part of its apportionments which would include payment to The World Service Fund and the Interdenominational Cooperation Fund?
In discharging its duties the Task Force on Apportionments met on several occasions for over a year. It reviewed various materials, published statements, budgets, and programs of certain United Methodist Boards and Agencies, as well as conducted several interviews. The committee extended invitations to the Chairpersons of the Board of Church and Society and Board of Global Ministries to meet with the group. Dr. Randy Nugent, General Secretary of the Board of Global Ministries, and Steve Brimigion, General Treasurer, came to Memphis and engaged in a frank dialogue which was helpful to the Task Force. The Chairman also received follow-up correspondence from Dr. Nugent and Sandra Kelley Lackore, General Secretary for the General Council on Finance and Administration. Dr. Thom White Wolf Fassett, Chairperson of Church and Society, also accepted the committee's invitation and met with members of the Task Force to discuss issues of concern.
The group had previously met separately with Bishop Kenneth Carder and James Finger, Memphis Annual Conference Treasurer, on Memphis Annual Conference issues relating to finance. Bishop Carder also provided his input on the apportionment question in an exchange of correspondence with a member of the Task Force.
The group also heard from Mark Tooley, Executive Director of UMAction in Washington, DC with whom the Task Force conducted an interview. UMAction is a subcommittee of the Institute of Religion and Democracy. Some members heard from Alan Morris of Concerned Methodists from North Carolina.
The committee reviewed the action taken by the CUMC United Methodist Women, who substantially reduced their funding to the Women's Division of the Board of Global Ministries because of concerns similar to those being considered in this inquiry.
The Task Force met with the Senior Minister as well as with Nash Vickers, a CUMC member who has been employed by the Board of Global Ministries, to hear their insights.
Having gathered information from a number of sources, the members reviewed the issues before them in light of scripture and The Discipline, meaningful discussion and fervent prayer to determine how CUMC should honor its commitments to the United Methodist Church as a faithful steward of the financial resources entrusted to the church by its members.
1. Excessive reserve funds held by certain of the general boards of the United Methodist Church.1
The current level of reserves (net assets) held at many general agencies appears to be excessive to the point of embarrassment to the general church. Currently the General Committee on Finance and Administration has a policy that agencies retain a minimum of 25% of annual operating budget in reserve. The high levels of net assets in many agencies seem to contradict the message to the local church of the dire need to support the World Service Fund and other apportionments. It would also appear to be misleading to promote apportionment giving as missional when substantial amount" of revenue are being retained in marketable securities, employee loans and other investments.
A. The World Division of the General Board of Global Ministries had total net assets as of 12/31/96 of $170,648,809. This is 3.3 times its annual $52,000,000 revenue. Excluding the permanent reserve of $60,328,349, the total of unrestricted and temporary reserves is $110,320,460. The World Division comes close to being self-funded. The World Division's net assets based on 1996 levels represent 40 years worth of World Service Fund income.
B. The National Division of the General Board of Global Ministries had total net assets of $41,447,922 on 12/31/96, $22,000,000 in non-permanent reserves. Cash and marketable securities of $28,421,558 produced investment income and gain of $4,199,521, almost the same amount as the $4,254,659 received from the World Service Fund. The total net assets on 12/31/96 represented over 9.7 years of apportionment income.
C. The General Board of Global Ministries ("GBGM") (World, National, MPS and Women's Divisions) had total net assets of $335,102,291 on 12/31/96. The net assets of these divisions have increased 61% in the past 4 years. $93,620,694 of the total is permanent reserve, leaving $241,481,597 in unrestricted and temporarily restricted net assets. The total non-permanent reserves represent 7.8 years worth of apportionment income. Yet, in April, 1997, the Deputy General Secretary of GBGM claimed that "The General Board of Global Ministries finds itself at this moment of enormous need and opportunity for witness at a time when the resources of our mission agency are strained to the limit...."2 While there is an acknowledgment of the "outstanding performance of our investment portfolio," the Deputy Secretary leaves the impression that the Board requires an urgent and continuing infusion of funds to facilitate the mission of the Board. Steve Brimigion, Treasurer of GBGM, wrote the Task Force to explain the apparent wealth of this Board and related a number of restrictions on a substantial amount of the Board's assets.3 The Task Force also heard from Sandra Kelley Lackore, General Secretary and Treasurer of the General Council on Finance and Administration who wrote that in light of material citing figures such as those contained in this section, The Financial Services Committee will consider formulating a policy on "reserves and net assets of the general agencies of the Church. "4
D. The General Board of Church and Society. With net assets of $15,622,476, the General Board of Church and Society's total reserve represents 5.8 years of World Service Fund allocation at current levels. The net assets total has increased 42% over the past 4 years. Cash and investments of $12,400,027 produce rental and investment income of $1,935,412, while World Service apportionment income is $2,702,701. Thus, the reserve balances function as an endowment for the Board.
2. General Board of Global Ministries ("GBGM").
GBGM is the largest agency of the United Methodism Church, and it is designated by The Discipline as the "missional instrument" of the church. It is located in the Church Interfaith Center at 475 Riverside Drive in New York City.
A. As of December, 1996, there were 287 "regular" personnel in missions under the World Division of GBGM5 (full-time salaried overseas missionaries as compared with interns, volunteers and associates). This compares to 516 overseas missionaries in 19856 and 1,500 in the 1960's. GBGM financially supported 169 nationals in their own country.7
B. For the year 1996, there was allocated $10,787,894 in direct support of persons in missions by the World Division (overseas missionaries8 which is 20.7% of the World Division Income for 19969 and is only 5.64% of 1996 total revenue of $191,402,568 generated by all divisions of GBGM.10 It is believed this is a substantial increase from revenue in 1995.
C. The Composite Statement of the GBGM for 1996 reflects that $46,328,709 was allocated for Distributions and Grants, including $7,699,182 awarded to non-United Methodist agencies. The administration for all parts of GBGM totaled $11,812,713 plus $1,656,894 for fund raising. "Programs" for the Board (exclusive of missionaries, grants and relief agency projects) totaled $37,687,832.11
D. There are currently 350 staff members at GBGM, down from approximately 440. 12
E. An enormous amount of GBGM's budget is dispersed in grants, many of which go to controversial political and social advocacy groups. A review of the many hundreds of grants that fall with GBGM's budget reflects financial support for secular political action rather than evangelism. In his meeting with the Task Force, Dr. Nugent spoke of his personal passion for the evangelism of the world by GBGM; moreover, he pointed out that a vast amount of that Board's funding goes directly for that purpose. Nevertheless, upon reviewing limited descriptions of the grants, as well as considering past actions and expenditures within the GBGM, the Task Force questions whether GBGM is being as effective as it can be in spending its many millions of dollars for the mission of Jesus Christ. Attached to this report as Addendum I are examples of organizations which receive grants from GBGM. These were drawn from the 1996 Financial Disclosure of GBGM provided by Steve Brimigion. While it is believed a large portion of GBGM funding goes to worthy missional endeavors, it appears that the primary purpose of many groups that receive funding is not to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ but to promote their own political and social agendas. It would seem far too many recipients of Church funds have no explicit Christian witness whatsoever. See additional statement on Addendum I.
F. GBGM has 90 directors, which is reduced from twice that number before 1996, but is still too large and unwieldy a number for effective oversight. In 1995, the Board spent over $700,000 on its two directors' meetings and in 1996 $800,000.13 In 1998, $600,000 is budgeted for two (2) Board meetings.14
G. In April of 1997 GBGM held its quadrennial Global Gathering which attracted over 4,000 United Methodists from around the world to Kansas City. A featured speaker was Nancy Pereira, a Brazilian theologian who declared that the crucifixion of Jesus Christ had no purpose: "We have to look at Jesus' Cross as a tragedy, a human episode without any sense of meaning. We cannot say that the cross was God's will. We have to change our point of view."15 At the Global Gathering she received warm applause amid no expressions of disagreement from the numerous bishops and other church leaders who were present. GBGM officials waited nearly a month to disavow the comments of Nancy Pereira. Randy Nugent expressed personal disapproval of Ms. Pereira's statements during his meeting with the Task Force. Nevertheless, Ms. Pereira was selected to write a section of the 1998 Program Book for United Methodist Women entitled "The Promised Land."
3. General Board of Church and Society ("GBCS").
A. Purpose. Conceptually, GBCS is to engage in mission and ministry of the Church. Paragraph 1002 of The Discipline states the purpose of the Board is to relate the gospel of Jesus Christ to the members of the Church and to the persons and structures of the communities and world in which they live. It presumably is the voice of the Church on social concerns and is to convey an explicit Christian witness to the world. In all of its actions the Board must abide by The Book of Discipline and the social principles and policies adopted by the General Conference. The Board's activities convey the strong impression that it is a lobbying group to push those agendas that it sets.
B. Staff. As the official lobbying group of the United Methodist Church, it has the largest lobbying office operating on behalf of a denomination. Its offices are located in the United Methodist Building in Washington, D.C., across the street from The Capitol and the Supreme Court. The United Methodist Building contains over 50 staffers from the Board of Church and Society, the Women's Division and the Commission on Religion and Race. By comparison, the Southern Baptist Convention, which has twice our denomination's membership, has only 4 staffers at its Washington office.
E. Political Agenda. GBCS has performed admirably in dealing with several critical social issues of the day such as gambling, alcohol and drug abuse and violence and sex on television; however, the prominent role the Board has played in many controversial social issues which engulf our society requires strong scrutiny. There are many difficult social issues, such as abortion, a school prayer amendment, and homosexuals in the workplace, in which there are genuine and diverse opinions in the church; however, it seems GBCS invariably takes the lead in advocating what is generally considered to be an extreme liberal stance, if not radical when one considers the make-up of the United Methodist Church at large. There is rarely a measured response along a moderate or conservative vein which would represent the views of many millions in the United Methodist Church.
F. United Methodist Building.
G. GBCS Publication. As previously noted, Christian Social Action is a publication of GBCS. Only liberal politicians are highlighted in its pages, suggesting that there are no UM legislators who hold "moderate" or "conservative" views, such as former Senator Sam Nunn or Robert Dole, both United Methodists. An example of the topics for its major articles includes "Religious Right Rediscovered: Coalitions of right-wing groups are still working hard to impose a narrow orthodoxy on American life."27 In the magazine, John Swomley wrote that conservative Christians are "opposed to separation of church and state, including the free exercise of religion as it applies to groups other than their own. They oppose equal rights for women, resist the right of personal and marital privacy, advocate censorship, and in general foster an atmosphere of hostility to various economic and civil rights." This is the magazine that supposedly represents all United Methodists.
4. General Board of Global Ministries, Women's Division.
A. Kolya Braun of the United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries, Women's Division, serves on the board of directors of the Religious Coalition of Reproductive Choice (RCRC), to which reference has previously been made. The Women's Division was a founding member of the RCRC and continues to be a member of the organization. Lois Dauway of the Women's Division joined in the letter to the President encouraging a veto of the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act.28
B. On November 4-7, 1993, an ecumenical conference called "Re-Imagining - A Global Theological Conference by Women" was held in conjunction with the World Council of Churches. Leaders from the Women's Division played a prominent role in this and subsequent "Re-Imagining Conferences." In the initial conference, $35,081 was paid for the attendance of 36 directors, 9 staff members and 11 UMW conference vice-presidents, and an additional $2,500 grant was given by the Women's Division for Minnesota scholarships to the conference. 29 The Women's Division has never disavowed or condemned the theology expressed at the Re-Imagining Conference. Rather, books of 9 of the speakers at the Re-Imagining Conference have been published by or recommended by the Women's Division. 30
C. The Women's Division is the primary provider of Christian educational materials for Methodist women. Authors who are on the Women's Division reading lists include Letty W. Russell, Chung Hyan Kyung and Rosemary Radford Ruether. A sampling of these women's beliefs are as follows:
D. Christ United Methodist Church's United Methodist Women voted in 1998 to reduce funding to the national Women's Division due to past actions and theological teachings of that organization.
5. National Council of Churches ("NCC").
For many years the United Methodist Church has been a member of the NCC and donated large sums of money raised through apportionments to support the causes of the NCC.
A. Through the Rev. Dr. Joe Leonard, Associate Director of the NCC's Ministries in Christian Education Program, the NCC has given its approval to a Planned Parenthood video called "Talking About Sex." The NCC official calls the video's information "complete and accurate." He continues, "More importantly, this resource gives parents help in communicating their values about sexuality." The 30-minute animated video urges parents and children to talk about sexuality, but only a flimsy moral framework is offered to guide that discussion. Sexual activity by unmarried adolescents seems to be accepted -- as long as it is done with mutual consent and in privacy, and both partners feel "ready." Abortion is presented as a possible solution to an unwanted pregnancy. An accompanying parents' guide is more explicit. While noting that "some religions condemn homosexuality," the booklet states that "the bottom line is that homosexual love relationships can be as fulfilling as heterosexual love relationships." It advises that children ages 10-14 should be educated about "diverse family structures" including "gay or lesbian parents." The parents' guide describes abortion as "one of the safest operations available" and it asserts that "most women report feeling relieved after an abortion."34
B. A video series produced by EcuFilm, a consortium that includes the NCC and United Methodist Communications, features some of America's most radical theologians. Speakers in the 15-hour video series called Questions of Faith speculate that God is "the cosmos," has breasts, does not answer prayer, takes vacations, and approves of many sexual practices beyond heterosexual marriage. Of the nearly 50 persons interviewed in the video, only a handful could be described as orthodox Christians. The following is a sample of material in the series:35
C. The National Council of Churches has pointed to the current famine in North Korea (October 1997) to advocate friendly U.S. ties to that communist regime while ignoring human rights abuses and persecution of North Korean Christians.
6. United Methodist Communications.
United Methodist Communications ("UM Com") located in Nashville is the church's $12,000,000 public relations agency. It receives its funding from World Service apportionments. It spends over $1,000,000 a year on cable television programming.
A. Questions of Faith, referenced above, was produced in cooperation with UM Com. The director of EcuFilm is Furman York of UM Com. The series is distributed throughout United Methodist Churches and is marketed to UM churches for use in Christian education.
B. UM Com created a 26-episode television series titled "Scriptures Alive!" that cost $74,000. One episode in the series was called "Adam and Steve ? Same Sex Marriage and Christian Faith" and aired on Odyssey Cable Network in May 1997.37 This episode justified same sex "unions" while only cursorily acknowledging United Methodist disapproval of same sex marriage. The program urged attention to "gay and lesbian couples wanting to make a profession of their couple-ness in the eyes of God."38
1 The material in this section is from a proposed recommendation of Rev. Edward F. Ezaki to Audit and Review Committee of General Conference on Finance and Administration.
2 Report of Robert J. Harmon, Deputy General Secretary, GBGM, of April 7, 1997 meeting.
3 February 16, 1998 letter from Steve Brimigion.
4 January 29, 1998 fax from Sandra Kelley Lackore to Ed Roberson, Chairman of Task Force.
5 1996 Report of the Treasurers, GBGM, p. viii-3.
6 "Mission Handbook: North American Protestant Ministries Overseas, n 13th edition, 1986.
7 1996 Report of the Treasurers. GBGM, p. viii-3.
8 1996 Financial Disclosure, GBGM, Form III of World Division.
9 1996 Financial Disclosure, GBGM, Form II of World Division.
10 1996 Report of the Treasurers, GBGM, Combined Statement of Activities and Changes in Net Assets.
11 1996 Financial Disclosure, GBGM.
12 Statement of Steve Brimigion at meeting with Task Force.
13 Good News, July/August 1995.
14 Statement of Steve Brimigion at Task Force meeting.
15 Good News, July/August 1997.
16 April 26, 1996 letter from Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice.
17 UMAction Briefing, Fall 1996.
18 Report of Ad Hoc Committee of Christ United Methodist Church of July, 1996. ~
19 Remarks of Dr. Fassett at meeting with Task Force on March 8, 1998.
20 Good News, May/June 1995.
21 UMAction Briefing, Fall 1996.
22 Statement of Susan Yuk reported in UMAction Briefing, Fall 1996.
23 UMAction Briefing, Fall 1996.
24 UMAction Briefing, Summer 1997.
25 Action Briefing, Summer 1997.
26 Christian Social Action, December 1995
27 Good News, July/August 1994 .
28 April 26, 1996 letter from Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice.
29 Fact Sheet Concerning the "Re-Imagining" Conference and the Women's Division of the GBGM dated 1/4/94 signed by Joyce P. Sohl, Deputy General Secretary, Women's Division.
30 Response, the magazine published by The Women's Division.
3l Feminist Interpretation of the Bible, edited by Letty Russell, (p. 140-141).
32 Struggle to be the Sun Again by Chung Hyan Kyung, (p. 106).
33 Journeys by Heart: A Christology of Erotic Power by Rita Nakashima Brock, (p. xii) 1997.
34 Institute of Religion and Democracy News Release, July 10,
35 "The Presbyterian Layman" November/December 1997.
36 United Methodist News Service, February 1998.
37 Nashville Banner, June 19, 1997.
38 AFA Journal, August 1997 and Nashville Banner, June 19, 1997.
After much study and prayer, the Task Force has concluded that a number of the United Methodist Boards and Agencies, through their expenditure of funds and other actions, have acted irresponsibly and contrary to scripture, The Discipline and the best interests of the United Methodist Church; furthermore, there has been support, if not advocacy, of theological doctrines that are inconsistent with our Wesleyan heritage and orthodox Christian beliefs and an unconscionable holding in reserve of exorbitant amounts of funds at the national level. As a result, the Task Force believes that Christ United Methodist Church must directly address these concerns and seek accountability of those Boards and Agencies.
The Task Force concluded that the only significant response that will be heard by these institutions is from a financial perspective in that past dialogue and debate within the United Methodist Church has not produced positive results.
The Task Force considered the withholding by CUMC of that portion of its annual apportionment that goes directly to World Service and Conference Benevolences and the Interdenominational Cooperative Fund. The 1998 budgeted figure for these line items totals $152,338.00. Of that figure, $71,986.00 is earmarked to be distributed to World Service and Interdenominational Cooperative Fund. It is acknowledged that this latter sum is an insignificant amount when one considers the millions of dollars being funded through the Boards' and Agencies in question. The Task Force is under no delusion that the withholding of these limited funds will, in and of itself, have any impact on the programs and expenditures which are objectionable. Nevertheless, the Task Force feels strongly that this action by CUMC, along with other, like-minded United Methodist Churches, will send a message to many of the Boards and Agencies of the United Methodist Church. Also, CUMC will have taken a stand for doctrinal faithfulness and good stewardship. The Task Force feels this is a measured response in light of, in many cases, a complete disregard of the beliefs of millions of United Methodists across the country.
It is the recommendation of the Task Force on Apportionments that the Administrative Board of Christ United Methodist Church withhold $152,338.00 representing the collective apportionment line items for World Service and Conference Benevolences and Interdenominational Cooperative Fund in the Memphis Annual Conference 1998 Budget. In doing so, it is not the intent of the Task Force to deny funding to ministries and causes in the Memphis Annual Conference which have the full support of CUMC. As previously noted, a division of this funding is not possible. Consequently, it is the further recommendation of the Task Force that the portion of the Memphis Annual Conference line item for World Service and Conference Benevolences that would otherwise remain in the Memphis Annual Conference ($80,402.00) be paid to the Conference with the specific request that it be allocated to those ministries or programs within the Memphis Annual Conference that would have received that funding. Finally, that those funds that would otherwise have been paid to the World Service Fund and Interdenominational Cooperative Fund ($71,986.00) be designated for mission projects supported by CUMC, as approved by the Administrative Board.
It is with a sense of sadness and regret that the members of the Task Force bring this recommendation; however, it is felt that the identity and integrity of the United Methodist Church, as well as the basic tenets of our Christian faith, are at stake and there is no alternative but to hold accountable those Boards and Agencies within the United Methodist Church that have failed to be faithful stewards of our financial resources.
Action for a Better Community $4,000
Asian Immigrant Woman Advocates 8,000
Automotive Training Business 8,000
Black Community Developers Program 4,500
Center for Community Action 4,000
Center for Constitutional Rights 3,500
Coalition for Economic Survival 4,000
Direct Action for Rights & Equality 4,000
Interfaith Center for Corporate Responsibility 11,625
Interfaith Impact for Justice and Peace 10,060
Northeast Jurisdiction Workshops & Networking 4,000
Southeast Jurisdiction Workshops & Networking 4,000
Southern Organization for Economic & Social Justice 4,000
Southerners for Economic Justice 4,000
Southwest Organization Project for Social Justice 4,000
Coalition of Religious Communities 8,000
Western Jurisdiction Workshops & Networking 4,000
Arts & Leadership Workshop/San Juan, Puerto Rico $4,000
Center for Constitutional Rights 5,000
Interfaith Center for Corporate Responsibility 32,000
Stand for Children 25,000
Grants for property renovations and capital improvements 721,798
(57 line items from $675 to $86,312)
Asia Pacific Center for Justice and Peace $12,000
Constituency for Africa - Washington, DC 10,000
ECPAT-USA - advocacy work U.S. Congress for "The Rights of the Child" 2,500
Global/Focus on the Global South 10,000
Philippines - Association of Women in Theology 1,500
Philippines - Education for Dialogue & Peace 5,500
Russian Coordinator at Iliff School of Theology 22,500
International Woman's Tribune Center 25,00
World Council of Churches ("WCC") Women in Church and Society 4,200
Other WCC Programs over $160,000
National Council of Churches ("NCC") Committee on Justice & Liberation 3,900
Other NCC Programs over $250,000
* It is noted that these organizations depict only a few of the hundreds of individuals and organizations receiving grants from GBGM and from a financial standpoint do not represent a major portion of the overall funding of the Board. However, when individuals and churches sacrifice their local ministries to pay United Methodist apportionments, there needs to be accountability for all expenditures. Moreover, the limited and generic descriptions of the organizations (and their purposes) listed in the Financial Disclosure statement of GBGM are lacking and only create additional questions in light of past expenditures of GBGM.
1. Reserve funds held by certain of the general boards of the United Methodist Church.1
We attach the most recent balance sheet of the General Board of Global Ministries to this Minority Report. That balance sheet, dated as of December 31,1998, shows total unrestricted net assets of $160,055,206, of which approximately $47,000,000 belong to the Womens' Division and to the United Methodist Committee on Overseas Relief. Of the $112,000,000 the Board has committed approximately $83,000,000 to program, leaving an actual, functional reserve of approximately $35,000,000, less than a realistic reserve for the Board given its annual budget of $130,000,000 in Church funds.
2. General Board of Church and Society.
A. The General Board of Church and Society in the United Methodist Church exists to express the mission of the Church. Its prime responsibility is to seek the implementation of the Social Principles and other policy statements of the General Conference on Christian Social Concerns. Furthermore, the Board and its executives shall provide forthright witness and action on issues of human well-being, justice, peace and the integrity of creation that call Christians to respond as forgiven people for whom Christ died.
The Board must develop, promote and distribute resources and conduct programs to inform, motivate, train, organize and build networks for action towards social justice throughout society, particularly on the specific issues prioritized by the Board. The Board will encourage an exchange of ideas on strategy and methodology for social change.
In all of its actions the Board must act consistently with the social principals and policies adopted by the General Conference. Book of Discipline, ¶ 1001, 1004.
Paragraph 1002 of the Book of Discipline states that the purpose of the Board shall be to relate the gospel of Jesus Christ to the members of the Church and to the persons and structures of the communities and world in which they live. It shall seek to bring the whole of human life, activities, possessions, use of resources, and community and world relationships into conformity with the will of God. It shall show the members of the Church and the Society that the reconciliation that God affected through Christ involves personal, social and civic righteousness.
D. The Social Principles of the United Methodist Church.
E. The Book of Resolutions.
The Task Force has found no evidence that GBCS has acted contrary to the Social Principles or the Book of Resolutions.
The Task Force finds that it agrees with most of the work performed by GBCS. Specifically, GBCS has, in its positions on gambling, alcohol and drug abuse and violence and sex on television, performed admirably.
GBCS responds directly to and is accountable to the General Conference through the Book of Resolutions and Social Principles.
2.1 United Methodist Building.
1.1 GBCS is currently trying to raise approximately $5,00,000 to renovate the United Methodist Building in Washington, D.C. The building, owned by GBCS, houses a number of United Methodist offices as well as rents considerable space to approximately 50 organizations.
1.2 Martha Cline, the Board's former associate general secretary for finance and administration, has stated that tenants must agree with the Social Principles of the United Methodist Church.8
1.3 The following organizations promote a liberal political agenda and each occupies space in the building: The Nation magazine, Witness for Peace, Latin American Working Group, Faith and Politics Institute, Women Strike for Peac, Nuclear Waste Citizens Coalition and Asia Pacific Center for Justice and Peace.9 When asked, Dr. Fassett stated that he knew of no instances when any of these groups took positions inconsistent with the principles espoused by the United Methodist Church.
1.4 GBCS has made the facilities of the United Methodist Building available to groups whose policies comport with the Social Principles. In fact, Dr. Fassett attended the Promise Keepers rally and welcomed United Methodist Promise Keepers at the United Methodist Building during that event. Some members of GBCS distrust Promise Keepers and feel that it promotes a right wing non-United Methodist agenda. The Task Force can only describe this view as silly and regrets that anyone would take such a position.
3. General Board of Global Ministries ("GBGM").
GBGM is the largest agency of the United Methodist Church, and it is designated by The Discipline as the "missional instrument" of the church. It is located in the Church Interfaith Center at 475 Riverside Drive in New York City.
3.1 As of December, 1996, there were 287 "regular" personnel in missions under the World Division of GBGM10 (full-time salaried overseas missionaries as compared with interns, volunteers and associates). This compares to 516 overseas missionaries in 198511 and 1,500 in the 1960's. GBGM financially supported 169 nationals in their own country.12
3.2 For the year 1996, there was allocated $10,787,894 in direct support of persons in missions by the World Division (overseas missionaries13 which 20.7% of the World Division Income for 199614 and is only 5.64% of 1996 total revenue of $191,402,568 generated by all divisions of GBGM.15 It is believed this is a substantial increase from revenue in 1995.
3.3 The Composite Statement of the GBGM for 1997 reflects that administration for all parts of GBGM totaled $13,388,378 plus $1,876,701 for fund raising. "Programs" for the Board totaled $131,180,301. The statement reflects a growth in net assets in 1997 of $13,593,00416
3.4 There are currently 350 staff members at GBGM, down from approximately 440.17
3.5 An enormous amount of GBGM's budget is dispersed in grants, many of which go to controversial political and social advocacy groups. A review of the many hundreds of grants that fall with GBGM's budget reflects financial support for secular political action as well as evangelism. In his meeting with the Task Force, Dr. Nugent spoke of his personal passion for the evangelism of the world by GBGM; moreover, he pointed out that a vast amount of that Board's funding goes directly for that purpose. Nevertheless, upon reviewing limited descriptions of the grants, as well as considering past actions and expenditures within the GBGM, the Task Force questions whether GBGM is being as effective as it can be in spending its many millions of dollars for the mission of Jesus Christ. Attached to this report as Addendum I are examples of organizations which receive grants from GBGM. These were drawn from the 1996 Financial Disclosure of GBGM provided by Steve Brimigion. While a large portion of GBGM funding goes to worthy missional endeavors, it appears that many groups that receive funding promote their own political and social agendas. See additional statement on Addendum I.
3.6 GBGM has 90 directors, which is reduced from twice that number before 1996, but is still too large and unwieldy a number for effective oversight. In 1995, the Board spent over $700,000 on its two directors' meetings and in 1996 $800,000.18 In 1998, $600,000 is budgeted for two (2) Board meetings.19
3.7 In April of 1997 GBGM held its quadrennial Global Gathering which attracted over 4,000 United Methodists from around the world to Kansas City. A speaker was Nancy Pereira, a Brazilian theologian who declared that the crucifixion of Jesus Christ had no purpose: "We have to look at Jesus' Cross as a tragedy, a human episode without any sense of meaning. We cannot say that the cross was God's will. We have to change our point of view."20 At the Global Gathering she received warm applause amid no expressions of disagreement from the numerous bishops and other church leaders who were present. GBGM officials waited nearly a month to disavow the comments of Nancy Pereira. Randy Nugent expressed personal disapproval of Ms. Pereira's statements during his meeting with the Task Force. Nevertheless, Ms. Pereira was selected to write a section of the 1998 Program Book for United Methodist Women entitled "The Promised Land."
3.8 At the Spring 1995 directors' meeting, the GBGM took the following action:21
In his meeting with the Task Force, Dr. Randy G. Nugent could not recall specifically the above-referenced meeting; however, he did not deny that such positions may have been advocated or approved. He stressed that there were people of many different persuasions on the Board and all would not agree with their political statements.
3.9 According to an agreement in 1964, the Women's Division was placed under the umbrella of GBGM. The Women's Division is guaranteed at least half of the director positions and at least 40% of staff positions on GBGM. Dr. Nugent pointed this out during his meeting with the Task Force. The Women's Division has a record of espousing "liberal" theology, as well as supporting organizations with secular political agendas.
4. General Board of Global Ministries, Women's Division.
4.1 The Women's Division of the General Board of Global Ministries has taken positions and done acts with which the Task Force disagrees and which the Task Force believes do not comport with Scripture or the Book of Discipline. However, no apportioned funds support the Women's Division.
The Women's Division controls one-third (1/3) of the directors on GBGM.
4.2 Christ United Methodist Church's United Methodist Women voted in 1998 to reduce funding to the national Women's Division due to past actions and theological teachings of that organization.
5. National Council of Churches ("NCC").
For many years the United Methodist Church has been a member of the NCC and budgeted $781,000 in 1998 for the NCC. Christ Church's obligation to this fund for 1998 is approximately $730. The N.C.C. has performed some useful work but has also taken extreme and offensive positions on social issues.
6. United Methodist Communications.
United Methodist Communications ("UM Com") located in Nashville is the church's $12,000,00 public relations agency. It receives its funding from World Service apportionments. It spends over $1,000,000 a year on cable television programming.
6.1 Questions of Faith, referenced above, was produced in cooperation with UM Com. The director of the video series was Furman York of UM Com. The series is distributed throughout United Methodist Churches and is marketed to UM churches for use in Christian education.
6.2 UM Com created a 26-episode television series titled "Scriptures Alive!" that cost $74,000. One episode in the series was called "Adam and Steve? Same Sex Marriage and Christian Faith" and aired on Odyssey Cable Network in May 1997.22 This episode justified same sex "unions" while only cursorily acknowledging United Methodist disapproval of same sex marriage. The program urged attention to "gay and lesbian couples wanting to make a profession of their couple-ness in the eyes of God."23
The Task Force views with deep concern the state of the United Methodist Church and has tried to find the best way for Christ Church to maximize its impact on the connection as a whole. At the same time, the Task Force recognizes that Christ Church should express its gratitude to the Memphis Annual Conference and its bishops for their leadership over the last forty-four years in the appointment process. Christ Church has never needed the support of the program or financial arms of the Memphis Annual Conference. It has needed, and has used, the office of the Bishop to supply this Church with four outstanding senior pastors. The Task Force recognizes that, in this, more than anything else, Christ Church has benefited from its connection to the United Methodist Church.
The Task Force considered how best to influence the direction of the United Methodist Church and to do so with integrity and faithfulness to the Kingdom of God.
Some leaders of the United Methodist Church have betrayed their ordination vows, have acted faithlessly and without integrity towards the denomination, and claim that God has justified their actions. We reject meeting faithlessness with faithlessness, vow breaking with vow breaking, and hypocrisy with hypocrisy. Each member of this Task Force holds a leadership position in this congregation of the United Methodist Church; some of us hold leadership positions in the Memphis Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. All of us have vowed to be loyal to the United Methodist Church and to support it financially and personally. We will not recommend that this Church breach its covenant because persons in other conferences and jurisdictions have breached theirs.
We will not act faithlessly.
The Discipline of our connection states that funds directed to World Service must necessarily go to the Conference Council on Ministries as well; conversely, a church cannot cut its payment to World Service without cutting its payment to the Conference Council on Ministries. Because churches in this Annual Conference less fortunate than ours depend upon the Conference Council on Ministries for program support which we can furnish on our own, and because we recognize an obligation to those churches within our conference, we will not recommend actions which could hurt those churches.
Only two agencies of the United Methodist Church - the Council of Bishops and the General Conference - can change its direction. Any action this church takes which does not impact those decision making bodies will fail in its purpose. Therefore, every decision Christ Church takes should be directed to influencing either General Conference or the Council of Bishops.
Cutting, or "redirecting", apportionments will send a message to the Memphis Annual Conference and to the general Church. Those who would have us cut the apportionments believe that it will send the message of concern and a message that this congregation will no longer support actions which did not accord with Scripture or the Book of Discipline. We believe, however, that the message that the General Church and the Memphis Annual Conference will receive is that Christ Church is rich and arrogant, will throw its weight around, and breaks its promises out of pique. The decision of Christ Church to withhold its apportionments will create news across the denomination, but will enhance the position of Christ Church only within the Confessing Movement and will lessen the impact of the ministry of Christ Church in the Memphis Annual Conference and in the denomination.
The Task Force believes that the message intended to accompany cutting apportionments will not reach its intended audience, the Council of Bishops or the General Conference. Other confessing movement churches and other members of the Confessing Movement will understand and approve of cutting apportionments. However, at this point, the impact of the Confessing Movement on the next General Conference is unclear. The Memphis Annual Conference will not hear a cut in apportionments for non-financial reasons as anything other than arrogance, and Christ Church will forfeit its voice in this Conference and in the General Church outside of the Confessing Movement.
Finally, and perhaps most important, cutting apportionments violates the Book of Discipline. It is disingenuous to suggest otherwise. Since our strength as a denomination has been our connection (as opposed, for instance, to the Southern Baptists, whose strength lies in the congregational system they follow), we believe that breaking the laws which we have vowed to uphold would be using the very means which we criticize in others.
We propose that this church continue to explore the possibility of linking with other congregations and persons to send the message to the general church that we want them to hear, not the message that they will hear if we break the law of the church.
We will keep our promises.
1. The material in this section is based upon United Methodist News Service Report #247, upon communication from Mr. Brimigion and from the 12/31/97 financial statement.
2. April 26, 1996 letter from Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice.
3. UMAction Briefing, Fall 1996.
4. Report of Ad Hoc Committee of Christ United Methodist Church of July, 1996.
5. Remarks of Dr. Fassett at meeting with Task Force on March 8, 1998.
6. Good News, May/June 1995.
7. UMAction Briefing, Fall 1996.
8. UMAction Briefing, Summer 1997.
9. UMAction Briefing, Summer 1997.
10. 1996 Report of the Treasurers, GBGM, p. viii-3.
11. "Mission Handbook: North American Protestant Ministries Overseas," 13th edition, 1986.
12. 1996 Report of the Treasurers. GBGM, p. viii-3.
13. 1996 Financial Disclosure, GBGM, Form III of World Division.
14. 1996 Financial Disclosure, GBGM, Form II of World Division.
15. 1996 Report of the Treasurers, GBGM, Combined Statement of Activities and Changes in Net Assets.
16. 1997 Financial Statement, GBGM.
17. Statement of Steve Brimigion at meeting with Task Force.
18. Good News, July/August 1995.
19. Statement of Steve Brimigion at Task Force meeting.
20. Good News, July/August 1997.
21. Good News, July/August 1995.
22. Nashville Banner, June 19, 1997.
23. AFA Journal, August 1997 and Nashville Banner, June 19, 1997.
A Position Paper
Dr. Bill Bouknight, Senior Minister
You, as leaders of Christ United Methodist Church, are charged with making an important decision involving $71,986. But the principles behind the decision are much more important than the money. Should Christ Church send $70,198 to World Service, an umbrella designation covering the national boards and agencies of the United Methodist Church? Should Christ Church send $1788 to the Interdenominational Cooperation Fund which provides financial undergirding for the National Council of Churches and the World Council of Churches?
For the entire 42 years of Christ Church's history, she has paid 100 percent of her apportionments. For all 32 years of my ministry, my local churches have paid 100 percent.
When I was appointed as your pastor in June, 1994, you were struggling even then with the question of whether or not to pay all your apportionments. Within a month or so of my arrival, you had a motion before your Administrative Board to withhold some of the apportionments. I asked you as a special privilege to me as a brand new pastor not to withhold. Graciously, you acceded to my request.
Then this past December, the motion to redirect certain apportionments was before you again. By that time the Task Force on Apportionments, chaired by Ed Roberson, had been appointed to examine this question.
Because that Task Force had not had time to complete its work, I asked you again to reject the motion to redirect apportionments and to pay all of them in full. You did so.
I did not attempt to influence the Task Force. I cannot recall even conversing with Chairman Roberson on the project. I felt that this should be a lay-driven decision, rather than one imposed by clergy. However, as your spiritual leader, I must tell you where I stand.
Under normal conditions, we pay all our apportionments automatically. That is part of being United Methodist. Paragraph 812 of the Book of Discipline states that "payment in full of these apportionments by local churches and Annual Conferences is the first benevolent responsibility of the Church.
The guidance to me as an ordained minister is just as specific in the Book of Discipline. It states, in paragraph 331.2 (f), that it is my task "to lead the congregation in the fulfillment of its mission through full and faithful payment of all apportioned ministerial support, administrative, and benevolent funds."
That paragraph is in the section of the Discipline where the "responsibilities and duties of a pastor" are set forth. It is the 23rd of 27 specific duties mentioned. The first specific duty listed is "to preach the Word, oversee the worship life of the congregation, read and teach the scriptures, and engage the people in study and witness. (331.1a) This first duty is in keeping with another paragraph in the Discipline which determines my thinking on this issue. PARAGRAPH 326(A)(4) STATES THAT "THE UNITED METHODIST CHURCH HOLDS THAT SCRIPTURE. TRADITION EXPERIENCE AND REASON ARE SOURCES AND NORMS FOR BELIEF AND PRACTICE BUT THAT THE BIBLE IS PRIMARY AMONG THEM "
In other words, the only instance when a church or pastor should refrain from following Disciplinary guidance is when to do so would violate scripture. If such conflicts arise, scripture must wield the greater influence.
The Protestant Reformation established for us the principle of "the priesthood of all believers." This principle declares that every Christian has the right and responsibility to interpret scripture and to be directly accountable to God.
Let me cite three instances where I see a conflict between scripture and these specific apportionments.
First, I see a conflict between scriptural prohibitions against killing and the opposition of the General Board of Church and Society to a ban on partial birth abortions.
All of us recognize that abortion is a difficult and controversial issue. Our United Methodist Discipline states our position as follows: "Our belief in the sanctity of unborn human life makes us reluctant to approve abortion. "(That means any abortion, even within the first trimester) The Discipline continues, "We recognize tragic conflicts of life with life that may justify abortion." That's the official position of our church.
It takes a terrible distortion of that position to make it support killing a little baby that has developed to full term, nine months in the womb, by delivering its lower parts and then killing it by inserting a syringe into the head and withdrawing its brains.
But our General Board approves the right of a woman to subject her unborn baby to that horrible, excruciating fate. That Board is a member of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice which advocates the right of a woman to have an abortion at any time during a pregnancy.
I cannot in good conscience support the funding of Dr. Fassett on his errands to the White House to encourage the President to veto the ban on partial birth abortions. Why? Because the Bible says that killing is wrong. "Thou shalt not kill" is the Sixth Commandment. Psalm 139:13 declares, "Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, and before you were born, I consecrated you."
A second area of conflict between scripture and the World Service apportionment has to do with the practice of homosexuality. The Bible in eight different places (Gen. 18:20-21, Gen. 19, Lev. 18:22, Lev. 20:13, Romans 1:26-27, I Cor. 6:9-10, Jude 1:7, and II Peter 2:6) refers, directly or indirectly, to the practice of homosexuality. In every reference it is deplored or condemned. At one point it is called an abomination. Our Book of Discipline agrees. It declares, "Although we do not condone the practice of homosexuality and consider this practice incompatible with Christian teaching, we affirm that God's grace is available to all."
Our Book of Discipline expressly prohibits the funding of pro-gay groups or the performing of same-sex covenants.
Nevertheless, the General Board of Church and Society, rather than being proponents of the position of scripture and the Book of Discipline, is dedicated to undermining and changing that position.
The Church's $12 million communications agency sponsored a cable TV program called "Adam and Steve" that urged acceptance of same-sex marital covenants.
Also, the General Commission on Christian Unity and Interdenominational Concerns has voted itself a "reconciling" commission. The explicit purpose of the "reconciling" movement is to change the United Methodist Church's stand against the practice of homosexuality.
A third area of conflict is between the scriptural mandate to care for the poor, on the one hand, and the holding in reserve of exorbitant amounts of funds at the national level. It is estimated that the general boards of our church may have as much as one-half billion dollars in reserves. Just one division of the General Board of Global Ministries had total net assets at the end of 1996 of over $170 million. This is 3.3 times that division's annual revenue. These huge reserves far exceed the approved policy that United Methodist agencies retain a minimum of 25 percent of annual operating budget.
This is not a new issue. The Rev. Edward F. Ezaki, a pastor in the California-Nevada Annual Conference, is a certified public accountant and a member of the General Council of Finance and Administration. He states that "over the years, the issue of high net asset levels has been surfaced numerous times..."
Jesus warned that harming even one child is an invitation to judgment; yet thirty-five thousand children are dying every day from malnutrition and hunger. Forty million people perish each year from poverty-related causes; yet Jesus said he came to bring good news to the poor. In Matthew 25, Jesus said this: "Inasmuch as you did it not unto the least of these my brothers, you did it not unto me." Again, Jesus said, "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth. "
When national church organizations keep huge financial reserves while millions of people are hungry and poorly housed, I believe that both the spirit and the letter of scripture are violated.
I affirm also the recommendation of the majority on the Task Force that we redirect the apportioned funds for the Interdenominational Cooperation Fund. Most of this money supports the National and World Council of Churches.
The National Council of churches has approved a Planned Parenthood video called "Talking About Sex," which is directly at odds with the scriptural standard of fidelity within marriage and celibacy outside marriage. In that video, abortion is presented as a possible solution to an unwanted pregnancy.
In another video series produced by EcuFilm, a consortium that includes the National Council of Churches and United Methodist Communications, some of America's most radical theologians are featured, offering views that are directly contrary to scripture and the United Methodist Articles of Religion.
Another complaint I have with both the National and World Council of Churches is that they have said and done little or nothing about the worldwide persecution of Christians. More Christians have died for their faith in this century than in all previous centuries combined. Yet, the National and World Council of Churches is strangely quiet on this matter. Their inaction is a direct violation of Galatians 6:2: "Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. "
Today I stand with the majority report of the Task Force on Apportionments because my conscience and the Book of Discipline demand that if scripture conflicts with Disciplinary guidance, I must side with scripture. I am doing so.
I do so with sadness. Some of the money going to our general boards does great good. But the funding structure is such that you cannot support the helpful boards and punish the offenders. The requirement is that you fund all of them.
I am eager for Christ Church to fund all of her other apportionments fully. The money going to our own Memphis Annual Conference does great good.
I pray for the day when our general boards will stop hoarding excessive amounts of money. I pray for the day when the General Board of Church and Society will interpret the message of the United Methodist Church on homosexuality rather than attempting to overturn it. I pray for the day when the General Board of Church and Society will give strict interpretation to the United Methodist position on abortion, rather than claiming the right to a partial-birth abortion.
Only prayer and the power of the Holy Spirit can bring about these changes. In the meantime, my conscience and devotion to scripture cause me to side with the majority of the Task Force on Apportionments in recommending that we redirect that money to other missional endeavors that are clearly in harmony with scripture.
Numerous laypersons have asked me this question in one form or another: "Pastor, if I contribute money to Christ United Methodist Church, can you assure me that not one dime will support the approval of partial birth abortions or the practice of homosexuality?" In complete honesty, I have had to say, "No, I cannot give you such an assurance." After all, we pay Dr. Fassett's salary as he urges President Clinton to veto the partial birth abortion ban.
However, if you approve the majority report of the Task Force on Apportionments, I will be able to declare with confidence that not one dime of the money contributed to Christ Church is lending support to an approval of partial birth abortions or the practice of homosexuality.
Whatever decision our Administrative Board makes on this issue, I will support it. In fact, I want all persons on the Board, however they vote, to come together in unity. We don't always agree, but we belong to the Body of Christ.
Thank you for the assurance that when I stand on scripture and conscience, whether we agree or disagree on interpretation, you affirm my right and duty to do so.
Missions/Executive Committee Recommendation on Redirection of Apportionment Funds
June 1, 1998
TO: Executive Committee
RE: Re-direction of Apportionment Funds
From. Missions Committee
In the event that the Administrative Board decides to redirect $71,986 from World Service and Interdenominational Cooperation Fund, we recommend that each of the following United Methodist churches receive $17,996. In the event that any of them chooses not to accept this gift, we recommend that it go to the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR).
(1) JACKSON AVENUE UNITED METHODIST CHURCH, John Snow, pastor. This church is situated in the middle of the largest concentration of Hispanic people in Memphis. With the help of Christ Church and the District, they have begun outreach programs to their Hispanic neighbors. However, the church needs a full-time Hispanic minister to really develop the program. They have identified a qualified and willing Christian worker in El Salvador, but funds are needed.
(2) EVERETT MEMORIAL UNITED METHODIST CHURCH, Emilie Matheny, pastor. This is the only United Methodist congregation serving the needs of the residents of Binghampton, the missional target area in Memphis for Christ Church. This church has made the transition from being a white, middle class congregation to being a congregation with a diverse membership. In addition to the usual ministries, this church offers tutoring, AA, and all-day programming for children in the summers.
(3) HOLY COMMUNITY UNITED METHODIST CHURCH, Freddie Moore, pastor. This new church is serving the needs of people in the Hurt Village and North Memphis area. Ministries here include three meals per week served to the homeless, food pantry, clothes closet, counseling, and adult Bible studies.
(4) HEARTSONG MINISTRIES, Steve Stone, pastor. This brand new church is a daughter of Christ Church, situated on the fast-growing eastern edge of Shelby County. The congregation is meeting in a school building, and attendance is exceeding 200. Funding is a challenge during this first year when programming costs are high and membership is still small.
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