From Wesley White’s Critique of the One Church Plan
Pension Liabilities – Par. 1504
The Commission on a Way Forward was formed to heal an internal divide regarding human sexuality. The first 15 petitions were about moving on from being held back by a fifty-year-old understanding of sexuality that there is only heterosexuality and aberrations from it.
Early on the bishops shifted from Human Sexuality to an emphasis upon “Unity.” Here we move into unity issues and find that they are really about pensions, not theologically grounded in relationships with G*D and Neighb*rs.
Amend ¶ 1504, effective as of the close of the 2019 General Conference, by adding a new subparagraph 23 to read as follows:
If a local church or charge in the United States changes its relationship to The United Methodist Church through closure, abandonment, or release from the trust clause pursuant to ¶ 2548, ¶ 2549, or otherwise, notwithstanding whether property with title held by the local church is subject to the trust (under the terms of ¶ 2501), the local church shall contribute a withdrawal liability in an amount equal to its pro rata share of any aggregate unfunded pension obligations to the annual conference. The General Board of Pension and Health Benefits shall determine the aggregate funding obligations of the annual conference using market factors similar to a commercial annuity provider, from which the annual conference will determine the local church’s share.
- We now know the value of the “trust clause”—the market value of commercial annuities.
- This indicates we stay together for financial, not theological, reasons. This is our bottom-line. This is as close as we will get to selling our possessions and giving the proceeds to the poor (Mark 10:17–27).
- This petition is driven by the possibility of removing the “incompatibility” clause.
- Language about “or otherwise…” refers to churches removing themselves from the denomination in reaction to removal of official support for their desire to “not condone” marriage and ordination of LGBTQ+ persons.
- It is best for delegates to amend this petition with specific language limiting the time of this particular scheme of a “pro rata share” to some limited amount of years—perhaps 4 years. After a quadrennium, everyone would be expected to remain under the traditional trust clause.
- Leaving an open-ended process for a United Methodist congregation to leave invites other reasons for discontent to pop-up and to cause unnecessary periodic angst over one pet prejudice or another. This needs additional clarification.