2022 Petitions

The following petitions and resolutions can be found in the Pre-Conference Report. 

For a full listing of these, please refer to the report

Resolution 1: A Special Called Annual Conference


WHEREAS, The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church and the Louisiana Annual Conference have enacted Paragraph 2553 which grants the limited right, until December 31, 2023, for United Methodist congregations to disaffiliate from The United Methodist Church.

WHEREAS, the Protocol for Reconciliation and Grace through Separation offers a proposal to restructure the United Methodist Church by separation as a means to resolve our differences, and allow each part of the Church to remain true to its theological understanding, while recognizing the dignity, equality, integrity, and respect for every person; and

WHEREAS, prolonged delay of General Conference, and uncertainty whether the Protocol will be enacted; and

WHEREAS, disaffiliation through Paragraph 2553 is time limited to be completed by December 31, 2023 so time is of the essence; and

WHEREAS, Methodists have always been a people of order, and handling church disaffiliations as a single docket at one Annual Conference in a calendar year is an orderly way to go about processing disaffiliations for such things as health insurance, apportionments, and pension payments ending with the calendar year; and

WHEREAS, the Louisiana Annual Conference has always modeled the virtues of graciousness and charity towards one another, and we can use this moment in the life of the church to model these virtues as an annual conference in the process of worshipful work; and

WHEREAS, we are at a Paul and Barnabas moment in the life of the church (Acts 15:36-41), and we can use this moment of separation as a time of blessing and sending one another;

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Louisiana Annual Conference requests our Bishop Cynthia Harvey, in accordance with Paragraph 369.6 of the Book of Discipline (“A special session of the annual conference may be held at such a time and at such a place as the bishop shall determine...”) to call a one day special session of the Louisiana Annual Conference no later than December 31, 2022 (preferably on a Saturday to facilitate attendance for as many as possible) to celebrate the ministry of one another, to vote on those local churches who are disaffiliating from The United Methodist Church in the calendar year 2022, to pray over one another in Christian love, and to bless one another’s ministries going forward.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that churches wishing to utilize Paragraph 2553 to disaffiliate this calendar year (2022) must have completed their called church conference a month prior to the special session of the annual conference.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Louisiana Annual Conference Board of Trustees shall meet prior to the special called annual conference to review, and process all requests for disaffiliation in a timely manner so that the one-day special called Annual Conference can be a day of worshipful work, prayer, blessing, and sending.

Signed: Rev. Stephen Fife, Pastor of Columbia Methodist Church, Columbia, LA 24

Resolution 2: Providing Clarity, Equity, and Grace for Congregations Choosing to Disaffilate in the Louisiana Annual Conference


WHEREAS ¶1504.23 of the Addendum to the 2016 Book of Discipline governs the process of allocating to local churches the withdrawal liability relating to a conference’s unfunded pension obligation when a local church closes, is abandoned, or is otherwise released from the Trust Clause;

WHEREAS the aforementioned paragraph states that the withdrawal liability will be allocated on a pro rata basis determined by the annual conference;

WHEREAS pension obligation relating to Pre-82 and CRSP-DB are directly related to the years of service pastors gave to churches;

WHEREAS the pension obligation to MPP Annuities results from a percentage of a pastor’s annual salary while serving a church;

WHEREAS this is the closest and most logical relationship between the pension obligation and the conference’s apportionment formula;

WHEREAS, unfunded pension liabilities are directly proportional to the amount a church pays for Direct Billed Pensions (item #39 in Annual Conference Journal) because of the formula used by Wespath for calculation of pension funding and market liabilities;

WHEREAS, the unfunded pension liabilities for small churches (measured as a share of annual income), are restrictive when calculated using their share of conference pension payments because more of their income is spent on clergy salaries and benefits than in large churches;

WHEREAS, other annual conferences in the United States are using the church’s share of the conference’s Direct Billed Pension payments or the church’s share of conference apportionments to calculate the church’s pro rata shares of the conference’s unfunded pension liabilities under ¶ 1504.23;

WHEREAS, church and conference amounts for Direct Billed Pensions and Conference Apportionments are published annually by the Louisiana Conference in the statistical tables of the Conference Journal, making the data for calculations transparent;

WHEREAS, clarity and transparency about disaffiliation requirements will reduce anxiety and empower local churches to make informed decisions;

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that we, the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church, direct the Conference Board of Trustees, the Conference Board of Pensions, and other relevant boards and agencies of the Louisiana Conference, that allocating unfunded pension obligation based on years of service, as defined by Wespath, and specific to an individual church congregation, be added as one of the attribution formulas for calculating the pro rata share of the aggregate unfunded pension obligation;

FURTHER RESOLVED, the total years of service attributable to the local church shall include only the years of service for living beneficiaries;

FURTHER RESOLVED, that any funds not in the pension plan but designated, restricted, or commonly understood to be available for pension purposes shall be included in calculating the unfunded pension obligation across all pension plans;

FURTHER RESOLVED, that the formula for calculating a church’s pro rata share of unfunded pension liabilities shall consist of: The church’s pro rata share of conference 1).aggregate years of service to the conference, 2). direct bill pension payments, or 3) conference apportionments, whichever is lowest;

Rationale: The variable that allocates pension liabilities among churches most accurately is the aggregate years of service to the conference, as defined by Wespath. Data on aggregate years of service for the Conference and for individual churches, however, are not published and readily available to conference churches for calculating pro rata shares of pension liabilities. The second-best variable for calculating pro rata shares of pension liabilities is the church’s share of “direct billed pension payments”, which is published and readily available for churches and the entire conference in the annual Conference Journal. Direct billed pension payments are consistent with the Conference’s methodology for allocating pension cost for current service, and therefore are a fair way to allocate market-based and unfunded pension liabilities. Calculations of pension liabilities for small churches in the conference, however, based on pension bills, are much larger as a proportion of the church’s annual income than the proportion of a large church’s income, because the majority of small churches’ incomes are spent on clergy compensation. This places a larger or unfair barrier on small churches for disaffiliation. small churches that is comparable to the proportion of income for unfunded liabilities due from large churches.

FURTHER RESOLVED, the total years of service attributable to the conference is the total for active and retired pastors as provided by Wespath through Benefits Access;

Signed, Dr. Edward Bee, PhD, Lay Delegate, St. Timothy on the Northshore


Resolution 3: Payments of Unfunded Pension Liabilities upon Disaffiliation


WHEREAS ¶1504.23 of the Addendum to the 2016 Book of Discipline governs the process of allocating to local churches the withdrawal liability relating to a conference’s unfunded pension obligation when a local church closes, is abandoned, or is otherwise released from the Trust Clause;

WHEREAS ¶2548.2 allows for an annual conference to create a comity agreement and according to Wespath Contingencies for Potential UMC Restructure or Disruption (Updated March 21, 2022): “while the payment is due in full, the annual conference, in its sole discretion, may agree to adjust the timing of the payment.”

WHEREAS Wespath Contingencies for Potential UMC Restructure or Disruption (Updated March 21, 2022) also asserts that “a comity agreement might adjust how pension withdrawal payments are paid (in the sole discretion of annual conferences), but the obligation to pay the withdrawal liability is still owed by the separated church;”

AND WHEREAS mortgages and other notes of obligation are common means of payment in our economic system;

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, acceptance of a properly executed promissory note shall satisfy a local church’s payment of unfunded pension liability assuming that the promissory note contains the following terms:

  1. No interest will accrue on the principal sum;
  2. The percentage of the local churches share of the unfunded pension obligation shall be recorded;
  3. Payments will be due in any year that the conference is billed by Wespath for underfunded pension obligations and the billing is passed onto the local churches either through apportionments or direct billing. The amount of the payment shall be based on the lowest attribution formula as passed by the 2022 Louisiana Annual Conference;
  4. It shall be secured by a lien recorded against church property;
  5. Action of the General Conference to transfer the liability relating to pension programs would lead to the cancellation of the promissory note.

Rationale: Clergy who disaffiliate from the UMC have their CRSP-DB payments converted to a cash balance in their MPP accounts by Wespath. The conference’s pension program will need assets to fund these balances. Surpluses in the conference’s pension plans, defined as assets above plan liabilities on a funding basis, are immediately available to fund the conversions from 27 DB to DC balances. The surplus assets in the Pre-82, MPP and CRSP-DB plans totaled $18.417 million as of the date that the 2020 pension contribution calculations were reported to the last annual conference. The surplus assets in the plans appear sufficient to fund conversions for up to a third of the active clergy in the Louisiana Conference. Conference pension plans therefore have no immediate need for additional cash to fund plan conversions.

Promissory notes secured by mortgages on real estate are the most common way that churches finance the purchase of major assets in Louisiana. Promissory notes provide churches a means of guaranteeing unfunded pension liabilities that will not impair the continuing operations of the conference’s pension plans unless a majority of active clergy in the conference exit through disaffiliation.

Signed, Dr. Edward Bee, PhD, Lay Delegate, St. Timothy on the Northshore

Resolution 4: Petition to Modify the Amount of Apportionments Required from Churches Disaffiliating From the Louisiana Annual Conference Under Paragraph 2553


Whereas, The Special Called Session of General Conference in 2019 passed ¶2553 to provide a socalled “gracious exit” for churches that wish to disaffiliate from The United Methodist Church by December 31, 2023, AND

Whereas, the Louisiana Annual Conference, in our 2021 regular session, passed a standard process for the Conference Board of Trustees to use when churches disaffiliate under ¶2553, AND

Whereas, the terms of the Louisiana Conference plan occasionally go further than the minimum requirements created by General Conference, AND

Whereas, we believe the terms for the Louisiana Conference’s process for disaffiliation under para 2553 should be fair for the Annual Conference and gracious for the churches who are disaffiliating, Therefore, the 2022 Louisiana Annual Conference instructs the Conference Board of Trustees to modify Section 4.a.iii of the Paragraph 2553 Withdrawal Agreement to reduce the required future apportionment payments from “an additional twenty four (24) months” to “an additional twelve (12) months”, AND

To add a statement to the Paragraph 2553 Withdrawal Agreement (which is proposed new section 4.a.iv, thus shifting current sections iv-ix to v-x), which will read: “Any unpaid apportionments from the 12 months prior to the disaffiliation date, not already covered by the existing year’s apportionment to be paid. This will be calculated by assigning one twelfth (1/12) of the current or prior year’s annual apportionment to each prior month.”

Rationale: We applaud the Conference Board of Trustees for putting together a disaffiliation plan in 2021 for churches that wish to use ¶2553. Most of the plan that passed Annual Conference is straightforward, clear, and sticks closely to the terms passed at General Conference. However, when it comes to apportionments, ¶2553 only requires payment of any unpaid apportionments for the 12 months prior to disaffiliation and an additional 12 months of apportionments. The Louisiana Conference process does not currently address prior unpaid apportionment payments, except those that may fall during the calendar year in which the church disaffiliates. The Louisiana Conference process also requires much more than necessary for future apportionments. For instance, any church disaffiliating on July 1 would effectively owe 30 months of apportionments after disaffiliation. This proposal better addresses the requirement for 12 months prior apportionments and lowers the future apportionment payment to only include amounts from the years in which the church was able to cast a vote towards and make changes to the Conference budget. We feel these changes make the process fairer for all parties.

Para 2553.4.b (for reference): Apportionments. The local church shall pay any unpaid apportionments for the 12 months prior to disaffiliation, as well as an additional 12 months of apportionments.

Signed: Rev. Ben McGehee, President of the Louisiana Chapter of the Wesleyan Covenant Association

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