GCFA board revises policies on spousal definition and seeks Judicial Council ruling on policy change.

gcfa logoNASHVILLE, TN – The Board of Directors of the General Council on Finance and Administration (GCFA),  the financial and administrative agency of The United Methodist Church, met in executive session October 21, 2013 to consider changes to benefits policies for employees of the general agencies.

The Board, which met via conference call, considered a proposal from its Committee on Personnel Policy and Practices, made up of representatives from all 11 agencies receiving general apportioned funds. After discussing and amending the proposal, the Board took the following actions:

  1. The General Agencies Welfare Benefits Program’s definition of “spouse” shall include the following:
    1. Opposite-sex and same-sex spouses, recognized by a state as being legally married to the employee; and
    2. Civil partners, either through a civil union or a comprehensive domestic partnership, recognized by a state as being the legal partner of an employee.
  2.  GCFA shall request a declaratory decision from the Judicial Council on whether general agency payments for portions of the insurance premiums for same-sex spouses and civil partners of general agency employees violate the 2012 Book of Discipline.

Paragraph 806.9 of the 2012 Book of Discipline states that the General Council on Finance and Administration “shall be responsible for ensuring that no board, agency, committee, commission, or council shall give United Methodist funds to any gay caucus or group, or otherwise use such funds to promote the acceptance of homosexuality or violate the expressed commitment of The United Methodist Church ‘not to reject or condemn lesbian and gay members and friends’ (¶ 161F). The council shall have the right to stop such expenditures. It shall not limit the Church’s ministry in response to the HIV epidemic.”

“The Board’s decision was taken in light of actions taken in states where same-sex marriage and domestic partnerships are now the law of the land”, said Bishop Michael J. Coyner, President of GCFA. “Our Board has sought with this action to make policy decisions that stay in conformity with both civil and church law,” he said. “We look forward to the Judicial Council’s guidance on this matter.”

UMReporter Staff

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6 Comments on "GCFA board revises policies on spousal definition and seeks Judicial Council ruling on policy change."

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The United Methodist Reporter wants to encourage lively conversation about The United Methodist Church and our articles in the belief that Christian conversation (what Wesley would call conferencing) is a means of grace. While we support passionate debate, we cannot allow language that demeans or demonizes others, and we reserve the right to delete any comment we believe to be harmful or inappropriate. We encourage all to remember that we are all broken and in need of Christ's grace, and that we all see through the glass darkly until that time we when reach full perfection in love. May your speech here be tempered with love, and reflection of the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. After all, "There is no law against things like this." (Galatians 5:22-23)
 
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Russ Graves
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Why not indeed?

Mason Dorsey
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Fits in the "otherwise" category. Plus in no way do any of those states force religious institutions to offer domestic partner benefits to anyone. The states may accept gay marriage, but they have not forced the church to do so. And why are we not holding lay employees to the same standards of the Book of Discipline as others…celibacy in singleness and fidelity in marriage where that marriage is between male and female?

Becki Jones
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The UMC has admonished and been ignored. Evil rules in high places. The season has come and gone. There is no repentance, no keeping covenant, no obedience to the order and discipline of the church. There is no place for this among us.

Catherine Jacocks
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John Wesley’s Basic Christianity Or Staying Methodist The batter's at the plate. The ball whizzes by, right at elbow height. That’s one. The second pitch goes the same way. That’s two. A swing at the third, but is the “whoosh” of the ball or of the bat the clearer? “You’re outta there!” Baseball has clear norms. Three strikes you’re out, at the old ball game. John Wesley had clear norms for his early Methodists too. Turns out he invented the three strike system. Sort of. John Wesley had a clear minimum standard for people wishing to join the Methodist movement:… Read more »
Catherine Jacocks
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Agreed!

Tom Griffith
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The Judicial Council already made a decision related to the appointment of General Secretaries of General Boards and Agencies that a distinction could be made between Clergy and Lay Persons occupying those offices. It seems to me that, if obeying local law (which Boards of Trustees are ordered to do) for laity requires acknowledgement of same-sex spouses or registered partners when it comes to providing employee benefits, this can be done. It's already been affirmed by the Judicial Council with regard to benefits offered to lay employees of Annual Conferences. This is no big deal, unless some people are so… Read more »
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