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2022 Annual Conference legislative round-up

By: Doreen Gosmire, director of communications, Dakotas UMC

Voting members of the 29th Session of the Dakotas Annual Conference approved all pieces of legislation before them, including everything on the consent calendar. Access the legislation.

G3 Voting

OptionFinder voting devices made the voting quick, and the results almost immediate.

New this year was voting with electronic devices. Option Technologies provided each voting member of the body a push button device. Voting on each motion took place, 30 seconds, with results displayed instantly. Everyone had to pick up their device each morning and return the voting device each day. 

Kelsey Morgan,  program assistant for the Dakotas Methodist Foundation, coordinated the distribution and volunteeer assistance with the voting devices. "Everything went smoothly. People were receptive to using the voting devices," she said.

Here’s a look at key items, along with some of the details behind them:

2023 budget

The 2023 budget was approved, including apportionments and direct billing, totaling $6,419,729. The 2023 budget represents a 7.25 percent decrease from 2022.

After Item 2.3 was lifted from the consent calendar, an amendment requesting that a $24,639 housing allowance for the Northeast District Superintendent in the 2023 Budget was approved. CCFA met and adjusted line items in the budget proposal but not the overall budget.

“CCFA continues to work toward decreased apportioned requests to churches in the future to reach a goal of 10%,” said Rev. Jeff Adel, chair of the Conference Council on Finance and Administration.

In the 2023 Budget, there will be a decrease in the apportioned request to churches from 15% to 14%. The goal remains to get to 10%. 

Dakotasconflogogrh Red 585

Several reasons contribute to the request decrease: some churches have indicated they were withholding apportionments because of the denominational conflict over human sexuality and have paid their apportionments; travel has decreased, people are traveling less for in-person meetings, and general church apportionments were reduced. 

Through the 2023 budget, the Dakotas Conference will continue to invest in these strategic areas:

  •  Developing Missional Leaders, including leadership development for clergy, lay servant ministries, camping and retreat ministries, and youth ministries.
  •  Extending Missional Congregations, including new church development, church revitalization, and tools and training for churches.
  •  Extending Missional Impact, including conference missionaries.
  •  Generating Missional Resources, including the conference finance office, worker’s compensation coverage, and equitable compensation for clergy.
  •  District Superintendents who support and resource clergy in various ways.
  • Support Services, including the Commission on Archives and History, conference communications, conference support staff, our video conferencing system, and the production of the Annual Conference Session.
Us Cooperation

Legislative Item 1.2

Legislative Item 1.2: This resolution passed and calls for establishing a new standing committee, created by the Common Table, to navigate Inter-Methodist Relations. The purpose of this committee is to keep the conversation going about opportunities for expanding our shared Wesleyan witness.

Some shared services would be helpful during the transition, while others could become long-term partnerships. 

Services that could help during the transition include payroll, bookkeeping, new church oversight, church training and consulting, and communications. 

Services that could be provided through a long-term partnership could include camping ministries, missionary support, archives, benefits administration, legacy funds, and services provided through the Dakotas-Minnesota Methodist Foundation. 

 Any official action would be approved by the proper groups, including, but not limited to, the Common Table, the Board of Trustees, and the Cabinet. 

Discussion on the plenary floor

Discussion on the plenary floor at Annual Conference 2022 in Bismarck.

Legislative item 1.3

Legislative item 1.3: Changes to lay equalization: Legislative item 1.3 passed. The legislation delineates changes to the lay equalization formula so that the last paragraph of p. 183 of the 2021 Conference Journal includes language related to apportioned giving.
The specific changes are:

  • The formula for lay equalization will include pastoral charges that have contributed at least 50% of their expected Apportionments for the previous fiscal year or 50% of the five-year average of yearly apportionments owed, whichever is less.
  • The calculation for lay equalization shall be based on the total number of lay members needed for equalization divided by the number in the conference, as reported in the statistics of the latest journal, divided by the total number of charges in the conference as reported in the ministry appointments of the latest journal. The total membership of each eligible charge is then divided by that average. The number of lay equalization members a charge does elect is limited by the total number of lay members yet needed for equalization.

The term “expected apportionments” are defined as the Conference-determined percentage of each church’s income received for the support of the operating budget. For purposes of this section, payments of “expected apportionments” shall not apply to mission congregations.

Legislative item 1.4

Legislative item 1.4 passed. The legislation recommends specific modifications to the Disaffiliation Process for local churches leaving the United Methodist Church. The specific modifications proposed are:

  • As part of determining readiness for a local church to leave the United Methodist, attention shall be given to supporting the potential remnant body of members--including the possibility of financial support, response teams, and pastoral leadership and care.
  • When a district superintendent meets with the local church governing body to determine readiness to proceed to a church conference vote to leave the United Methodist Church, readiness shall also be assessed by the Dakotas Cabinet.
  • All readiness assessment information shall also be made available to local church members.

The legislation is retroactive to 2021 to include an evaluation of the disaffiliation of the former Prairie Winds United Methodist Church and support and care for the members of Dickinson United Methodist Church.

Disaffiliation process updated: A presentation of the updated Disaffiliation Process was received and time was spent in plenary sessions fielding questions. 

General Conference 2019

Worship service during General Conference 2019.

In 2019, the General Conference passed legislation giving churches the right to disaffiliate from the denomination for reasons of conscience related to the legislation passed at that Conference regarding matters of human sexuality or the actions or inactions of its annual conference related to those matters which followed. The rules and procedures for local churches and Annual Conferences are set by General Conference and are all contained in the Book of Discipline. This legislation, paragraph 2553, was passed to allow a more uniform process for disaffiliation under certain circumstances.

The individuals and groups tasked with detailing the process and terms for churches in the Dakotas were the Conference board of trustees, the cabinet, the annual conference treasurer, benefits officer and director of connectional ministries, and the annual conference chancellors.

Following the disaffiliation of Dickinson Prairie Winds UMC, the steps outlined in the process have been evaluated based on input from individuals who experienced or were near the process in Dickinson. The delay of the General Conference until 2024 also prompted some changes to the process.

Here are the specific adjustments to the disaffiliation process: 

  • Expectations of communication with congregation members are clearly articulated in the process with resources for congregational feedback.
  • The assessment of readiness has been enhanced, and the entire congregation is included in processing readiness assessment information.
  • In the process, 2/3 of the official membership of the local church must vote in favor of disaffiliation. 
  • Payment of a church’s full pension liability into an escrow fund with the Dakotas Foundation. If the 2024 General Conference passes legislation to allow for transferring a pension liability to another denomination, that money would be returned to the local church. Otherwise, it will be remitted to the Conference Board of Pensions.
  • Payment of any unpaid apportionments for the 12 months prior to disaffiliation and an additional 12 months of apportionments. This amount for this additional 12 months would be set at the church’s unpaid apportionment amount from 2020—the year we had to draw down our transitional reserve fund.
  • Purchase of the church building and property from The United Methodist Church for $1.00 to transfer the title to the new incorporated name.
Vimeo Page

Video of the worship and plenary sessions can be accessed on our Vimeo page here.

Access the Disaffiliation Process with corrections

View the plenary sessions for the 29th Session of the Dakotas Annual Conference:
Thursday, June 9, 2022
 Friday, June 10, 2022
 Saturday, June 11. 2022


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