Thursday's Legislative Action
As part of the first full day of annual conference, lay and clergy members acted upon a number of legislative matters.
The item that drew the most discussion as well as the closest vote was a resolution offered by Sangamon River District Lay Leader Pete Paulson which sought to consolidate the legislative business of the annual conference into a single day.
Paulson said his motivation for the legislation was to make it possible for more persons to attend annual conference and participate in the legislative process without major sacrifices of time currently needed in order to attend. He offered the legislation as a recommendation since the authority for setting the agenda rests with the bishop working in collaboration with the Annual Conference Sessions Committee.
But others cited the need for the integration of formational parts of conference that inform the legislative process. To separate the two would create a situation where folks may “pick and choose” which parts to attend and therefore not experience the total annual conference experience.
Paulson’s resolution (Legislative Item 201) was defeated narrowly 484-499.
The conference approved overwhelmingly Standing Rules Changes with passage of Legislative Items 105 and 106.
Minimum salary levels for full-time pastors for 2011 were set on the recommendation of the Committee on Equitable Compensation 708-57 (Legislative Item 107). Pastors in full connection, associate members and provisional elders’ salaries will be a minimum of $34,500 – an increase of $1,268; and $31,600 for full-time local pastors – an increase of $1,250.
The conference also approved a Pension Funding Plan (Legislative Item 108), that utilizes two years of a premium holiday offered by the General Board of Pensions to address $1.6 million of the additional $2.9 million sought to address loss in investments due to the downturn in the stock market in 2008 and 2009.
The Board of Pensions report also was adopted (Legislative Item 109). The passage means there will be no increase in the health insurance assessments paid by individuals or local churches. This will be the fourth in five years that there has been no increase. Pension rates for pre-1982 years of service will be $660.94 per service year – an increase of 2 percent.
The conference also approved resolutions from the Conference Commission on Archives and History, recognizing Bishop Hill as a historic site (Legislative Item 110) by a vote of 883-18. The annual conference also approved the transfer of oversight for the Prentice Memorial Sermon from the Conference Trustees to the Commission on Archives and History (Legislative Item 111) 887-40.
A covenant agreement between Wesley Village and the conference (Legislative Item 120) were also approved 873-16.