April 10, 2014
(Submitted by Rick McKinley, Director of Congregational Development in consultation with the Board of Congregational Development)
(If approved, this will replace the current Appendix R in the Policies and Procedures Manual)
“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1
The New England Conference has been blessed with many deeply committed lay and clergy leaders who have invested their lives in serving God and making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. These leaders have helped establish congregations and church buildings throughout New England. When one of these churches closes through discontinuation or abandonment, the following policy will be used for the disposition of proceeds of the closed church (as described in ¶2549*). The goal is to ensure that the gifts of faithful disciples in closed congregations will provide a legacy for a new generation of disciples through the New England United Methodist Church.
Establishment of Hebrews 11 Fund
1. In 2010 the New England Conference
will established a “Hebrews 11 Fund” to receive the proceeds from the property of discontinued and abandoned churches, including:
a) net proceeds from the sale of church buildings, parsonages or other real estate (net proceeds remain after payment for outstanding obligations to the New England Conference including the Conference Board of Trustees Abandoned Property Account)
b) all gifts held in trust, assets of any endowment funds, and assets of any foundation of the church, unless otherwise directed by operation of law (¶2549.5)
c) any gift, legacy, devise, annuity or other benefit that accrues or becomes available after the church has been discontinued or abandoned (¶2549.6)
2. Upon review and catalogue by the Conference Board of Trustees, any assets still held by the New England Conference from the proceeds of previously discontinued or abandoned churches that have not already been designated by action of the Annual Conference shall be transferred into this fund.
3. The Conference Board Trustees will manage the aggregation and investment of the Hebrews 11 Fund, in keeping with their practices and policies. The Trustees will designate a liaison to work with the Conference Committee on Congregational Development.
on developing expenditure budgets for the Hebrews 11 Fund.
4. The Conference Committee on Congregational Development, in collaboration with the Bishop and Cabinet, shall direct and approve all expenses of this fund according to the following guidelines:
a) 85% (eighty-five percent) of the proceeds directed to the Hebrews 11 Fund
proceeds shall be used only for the development of new and existing United Methodist churches in order to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world with explicit intention that these funds be distributed equally between the development of new churches and existing congregations.
b) any expenditure from the Hebrews 11 Fund for the development of new and existing churches must include a clear and detailed three-to-five year strategic development plan that projects a self-supporting ministry for the recipient new or existing congregation (similar to ¶2543.3).
c) priority for Hebrews 11 Fund expenditures will be given to new or existing congregations that serve a geographic region where a church has been closed or other underserved population group (in keeping with priority of 2004 New England Conference Resolution 225 and previous Conference policies)
d) 15% (fifteen percent) of the proceeds directed to the Hebrews 11 Fund shall be designated to provide funding for emerging strategic opportunities and needs, the specific application to be determined by the Conference Committee on Congregational Development in consultation with the Cabinet, with final approval by the Cabinet and Director of Congregational Development.
5. The Annual Conference shall administer the Hebrews 11 Fund in such a way that proceeds from the properties of discontinued or abandoned churches in urban centers with more than 50,000 in population shall be used only for new and/or existing ministries within urban transitional communities, as required by Discipline ¶2549.7.
Summary Process for Discontinuing a United Methodist church:
1. Prior to a recommendation for discontinuance the District Superintendent, in consultation with the Conference Chancellor, will obtain appropriate legal counsel regarding the properties of the church (¶2549.1)
2. Prior to a recommendation for discontinuance the District Superintendent, in consultation with the Director of Congregational Development, shall guide the congregation in an assessment of its potential and options for transition or revitalization as described in Discipline ¶213 (¶2549.2.a)
3. A recommendation for discontinuance by a District Superintendent shall include recommendations as to the future use of the property and where the membership and the title to all the real and personal, tangible and intangible property of the local church shall be transferred (¶2549.2.a). This recommendation shall be made in consultation with the members of the discontinuing congregation, the District Board of Church Location and Building, any district congregational development committee, and the Conference Director of Congregational Development.
4. The District Superintendent’s recommendation shall include that the New England Conference Hebrews 11 Fund receive any otherwise undesignated proceeds from the property of the discontinued or abandoned church, including:
a. net proceeds from the sale of church buildings, parsonages or other real estate
b. all gifts held in trust, assets of any endowment funds, and assets of any foundation of the church, unless otherwise directed by operation of law
c. any gift, legacy, devise, annuity or other benefit that accrues or becomes available after the church has been discontinued or abandoned
5. With the consent of the presiding Bishop, a majority of the District Superintendents, and the District Board of Church Location and Building, the Annual Conference may adopt the District Superintendent’s recommendation for discontinuance (¶2549.2.a).
6. Other steps may be followed as described in Discipline ¶2549, ¶213 or outlined in the General Council on Finance and Administration’s “Checklist for Discontinuation or Abandonment of Local Church Property.”
*All references to the Book of Discipline reflect number in the 2012 edition.
See ¶2549 for a summary of the process of discontinuing or abandoning a church
See ¶259 for a summary of the process for starting new churches
Conference Secretary’s notes:
1) Amendment(s) is/are underlined
2) Deletion(s) is/are