The Great Plains Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church is committed to fostering and building a culture of diversity and inclusion. "For just as the body is one and have many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ." (1 Corinthians, 12:12)
"If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it." (1 Corinthians 12:26) As a United Methodist Church, there will be times when employment preferences based on religion are appropriate and should be a factor with respect to one’s employment. Subject to this consideration and the requirements of our denomination’s Book of Discipline, we are mindful of our social obligations with respect to fair employment practices. We strive to create and maintain a work environment in which people are treated with dignity, decency and respect. We encourage differences among our leaders, employees and local congregations as embraced in the “Social Principles” contained in The 2012 Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church.
This passion for reaffirming the relationship of God among all of God’s people guides our desire that every congregation be welcoming to all persons. The environment of the Church, in its many settings, should be characterized by mutual trust and the absence of intimidation, oppression and exploitation. We believe that each employee and volunteer has the right to work and serve in an environment free of harassment; therefore, the Conference has adopted this Personal Conduct Policy. Anyone violating this policy will be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment, discontinuation of volunteer service, or termination of membership under the provisions of Paragraph 2702 of The 2012 Book of Discipline. While the Conference expects church and conference staff volunteers, clergy and lay, as well as members of local churches, to abide by the terms of this Personal Conduct Policy as set forth below, the Conference recognizes The 2012 Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church provides the exclusive methods for bringing complaints against appointed or ordained United Methodist clergy and the sanctions that may be applied.
Prohibited Conduct Under This Policy
It is the Conference’s policy that no ordained or licensed pastor, district superintendent assignee (DSA), staff person, local church employee, church member/constituent, or volunteer may engage in any form of sexual abuse or sexual misconduct, racial or sexual harassment, or harassment based upon any other characteristic protected by law, including but not limited to, religion, disability, national origin, gender or age. Through enforcement of this policy and by education of church leaders, employees, and volunteers, the Conference will seek to prevent, correct and discipline behavior that violates this policy. All employees, church members/constituents, and volunteers, regardless of their positions, are covered by and are expected to comply with this policy and to take appropriate measures to ensure that prohibited conduct does not occur.
A. Sexual Harassment
The definition of harassment is when an individual is subjected to unwelcome verbal or physical conduct or other offensive behavior, which is sexual in nature or based on gender, especially where:
The Great Plains Annual Conference prohibits all forms of sexual and other unlawful harassment. The Conference will not tolerate any offensive physical, written or spoken conduct, including the use of a computer, regarding any of the following subjects:
Normal courteous, mutually respectful, pleasant, non-coercive interaction among employees, both men and women, that is acceptable to both parties, is not considered to be harassment, including sexual harassment.
B. Sexual Abuse and Misconduct
The Conference prohibits all forms of sexual abuse and sexual misconduct by local church employees, volunteers and members. It is the Conference’s policy that no one affiliated with United Methodist Churches may engage in any form of sexual abuse or sexual misconduct. Anyone violating this policy will be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination or removal from volunteer service.
All local churches are expected to create an atmosphere free of sexual abuse and sexual misconduct. Furthermore, all staff leaders and members are expected to immediately report any knowledge of sexual abuse or sexual misconduct.
All pastors under appointment , District Superintendent Assignees (DSAs) and Certified Lay Ministers( CLMs) under assignment shall complete boundary training prior to their initial appointment or within the first six months of such appointment or assignment. Documentation of completed training shall be placed in the pastor or CLM’s personnel file.
Procedures for Reporting Violations of This Personal Conduct Policy
A. When the Offender is a Clergy Person, Certified Lay minister or Employee of the Church
Any ministerial or managerial employee who receives a complaint of sexual abuse, sexual harassment, or sexual misconduct, or who otherwise becomes aware of or suspects a violation of this Personal Conduct Policy should immediately report the violation to the District Superintendent. Reporting of sexual abuse or physical abuse of children, youth, or adults from vulnerable populations shall also be made as required by the Safe Gatherings Policy.
If a complaint regarding sexual abuse, sexual harassment, or sexual misconduct is made, an investigation will be conducted as promptly as possible. The investigation of the complaint involving a non-ministerial employee of a local church will be conducted by Pastor or the Staff Parish Relations Committee and will be completed within thirty (30) days from the submission of the complaint, provided there are no extenuating circumstances. If the complaint involves a ministerial employee, the matter will be referred to the appropriate supervising clergy for investigation and appropriate action under The 2012 Book of Discipline. If the complaint involves a lay employee of the Annual Conference, the investigation will be conducted by the Personnel Team.
If the complaint involves a violation of the Computer Usage Policy, report the alleged violation to the Chairperson of the Pastor/Staff Parish Relations Committee of the local church (or the Personnel Team Chair, in the case of an annual conference employee) immediately.
If an individual is found to have violated the Personal Conduct Policy, disciplinary action may be taken, up to and including termination of employment, removal from volunteer service, or termination of membership. All actions taken in connection with a violation of the Personal Conduct Policy will comply with any applicable law or procedure under The 2012 Book of Discipline.
The Conference will not retaliate against an employee who in good faith files a complaint alleging a violation of this Personal Conduct Policy, nor will the Conference retaliate against an individual for cooperating in good faith in an investigation of harassment.
Clergy misconduct is subject to the procedures contained in The 2012 Book of Discipline, and any complaint against clergy must follow the applicable provisions contained therein. Clergy, and those who have a grievance against clergy, whether or not the complainant or the violator is lay or clergy, are encouraged to address any concerns directly with the other person as a means of resolving the issues. If the issues are between two clergy, and the two cannot resolve the issues among themselves, the one claiming a violation is encouraged to seek the assistance of her/his Superintendent as a means of resolving the issues. If the clergy person’s complaint involves her/his Superintendent, or if either is a Superintendent, the complainant is encouraged to invoke the guidance of a member of the Conference staff, another Superintendent, or the Bishop to assist in resolving the grievance prior to filing a formal complaint.
B. When the Victim is a Clergy Person
If any clergy feels he/she has been subjected to racial, sexual, or other harassment or sexual misconduct, he or she should
The clergy person who feels harassed by a lay person is encouraged to use the following procedures. If the offending behavior and complaint is sexual abuse or sexual misconduct then the immediate procedure is a formal complaint as outlined in The 2012 Book of Discipline paragraph 2703.4. Identifying sexual or gender harassment depends on a determination of what a reasonable person would perceive as unacceptable. It is important to resolve complaints confidentially and, if possible, informally.
Initial Resolution Process
1. Clergy are responsible for establishing and maintaining clear boundaries of professional conduct.
2. Therefore, a clergy person should respond immediately and clearly to the harasser that such behavior is unwelcome and uncomfortable.
3. If the behavior continues:
a. Avoid being alone with the harasser.
b. Keep accurate records of the harassing behavior.
c. Contact the chair of the Staff Parish Relations Committee (if the Chair of the SPRC is the harasser then contact the District Superintendent directly).
d. Notify the District Superintendent to begin the informal process for complaint resolution.
4. The District Superintendent will contact the Director of Clergy Excellence, who will meet with the chair of the SPRC (or person designated) to explain the informal and formal process and introduce two advocates.
Informal Resolution Process
1. After meeting with the Director of Clergy Excellence, the chair of SPRC (or a person designated) and the two advocates will form the intervention team and will meet separately with the clergy person and with the accused. The purpose of the meeting is to:
a. Determine if the complaint is valid or a miscommunication or misunderstanding.
b. Ask the accused to make an appropriate written statement to the clergy person. The written response may include explanation of the behavior resulting in a misperception of intent, an apology, and a promise not to repeat the behavior.
2. If the clergy person finds the response satisfactory then the complaint will be considered as resolved, and the District Superintendent will be notified of the result.
3. If the response of the accused is not satisfactory or the accused refuses to respond, then the complaint will move to the formal process and the District Superintendent and the Staff Parish Relations Committee will be notified that a formal process of complaint has been initiated. At any point during the informal process the clergy person, the accused or the SPRC committee may request in writing to the District Superintendent a formal resolution process.
Formal Resolution Process
1. If the District Superintendent determines that the process outlined above has been followed and the complaint is not resolved, then the District Superintendent will appoint a committee on investigation according to paragraph 2703.4 in The 2012 Book of Discipline.
2. The final decision of the committee will be communicated in writing to the clergy person, the accused and the Staff Parish Committee.
The Great Plains Annual Conference is determined to minimize the risk of abuse to participants in activities of the Great Plains Conference, its districts, and programming agencies. Each local church is required to adopt a policy which is no less restrictive than Conference policy for local church personnel and events. Churches may develop best practices which are suited to their own context, as long as they are not in conflict with this policy.
Introduction and Policy
“Let the children come to me and do not stop them: for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs” (Matthew 19:14). Scripture and our United Methodist tradition inform us in our belief that God values all of human life - perhaps children most of all.
The Social Principles of the United Methodist Church states, “...children must be protected from economic, physical, emotional and sexual exploitation and abuse.” (¶ 162.C, The 2012 Book of Discipline) The Book of Resolutions encourages all conferences to become involved in the prevention of the physical and sexual abuse of children (#3084.B. 2012 Book of Resolutions, p. 241) The 2012 Book of Discipline names child abuse, sexual abuse, sexual misconduct, and sexual harassment as chargeable offenses for clergy and lay members (¶2702, 2012 Book of Discipline).
Therefore, it shall be the policy and covenant of the Great Plains Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church to prohibit and work to prevent physical or sexual abuse against children, youth, and adults from vulnerable populations involved in any ministry sponsored by the Conference, its districts, and programming agencies. Further, we are called to minister to those persons who are experiencing abuse and to those who have been victims of abuse in the past. To that end, we covenant to be aware of our responsibilities and to act justly in the best interest of those who have been abused or those who are most vulnerable to abuse.
This policy and its provisions shall apply to all staff persons, volunteer or paid, lay or clergy, who have any direct contact with children and/or youth and/or adults from vulnerable populations who participate in any activities or events sponsored by the Great Plains Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church including its districts and programming agencies.
The Great Plains Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church shall develop and implement training procedures for all individuals who work with children, youth and adult from vulnerable populations populations at conference and district activities and events. No individual shall have any direct contact with children, youth or members of adult from vulnerable populations populations until they have completed this training program with the exception that an uncertified worker or a youth under the age of 16 may assist as long as he or she is working with and under the direct supervision of a certified individual. In the case of a youth under the age of 16, the certified individual should be at least 21.
Safe Gatherings on-line training is the approved Great Plains Annual Conference method of training and certification, and it shall also be the training and certification process used by local churches.
Prior to certification, applicants will complete an on-line application/consent form. By completing the form, the applicant will give the Safe Gatherings Coordinator permission to perform the necessary investigation to complete the review of the application. The Safe Gatherings Coordinator shall facilitate a screening check with a national background service. A search of the National Sex Offender Public Website will be performed on each applicant. A screening check with the Kansas Bureau of Investigation or other appropriate agencies will be performed on Kansas residents. A screening check with the Kansas Department for Children and Families Child Abuse and Neglect Central Registry will be performed on Kansas residents. A screening check with the Nebraska Department of Health & Human Services, Division of Children and Family Services, Adult and Child Abuse and Neglect Register/Registry will be performed on Nebraska residents.
A lay reference and clergy reference will be provided by each applicant. Clergy will provide a reference from their District Superintendent. References must have known the applicant at least two years and not be related to the applicant.
The Safe Gatherings Coordinator shall review all application materials. If any of the completed forms or reports raises questions about the fitness of the applicant, the Safe Gatherings Coordinator shall notify the Certification Authority. The Great Plains Annual Conference reserves the right to turn away any individuals for volunteer or paid service.
If the applicant is found to have been involved in any activity in which the applicant abused or exploited children, youth or adults from vulnerable populations the applicant will not be approved. Any conviction of a crime against children, youth or adults from vulnerable populations shall disqualify any applicant. A person who has been convicted as a sex offender will not be certified. Affirmative responses to the following questions relating to crimes will prompt a personal review of an application:
Certification is valid for four years. Applicants must be 16 or older in order to be certified to serve with the Great Plains Annual Conference. Those younger than 16 years can still serve in a ministry area but they must serve with a certified worker who should be at least 21 years old. Certified applicants will be notified of their approval by e-mail. The church through which the approved applicant is applying for certification will also be notified.
If not approved, the applicant will be notified in writing, and his or her pastor will also be notified.
Reporting Incidents of Abuse
Procedures for Reporting, Investigating and Resolving Violations of this Policy
Pursuant to the provisions of ¶2702 and following of The 2012 Book of Discipline, in matters relating to the implementation and enforcement of the Great Plains Annual Conference Certification Policy, the following procedures shall apply (Note: These procedures will be followed except where state authority or law enforcement dictate otherwise):
a. Immediately upon receipt of an allegation of violation of policy, the District Superintendent of the church or geographic region involved shall be notified.
b. The District Superintendent shall notify the Crisis Management Team.
c. The Director of Congregational Excellence shall notify the Certification Authority and the Conference’s insurance carrier.
d. The Crisis Management Team will facilitate reporting to the State and/or law enforcement agencies, as appropriate.
e. The person against whom an allegation has been made (“Respondent”) will immediately be suspended from working with children, youth or adults from vulnerable populations.
2. If a minor is involved, that individual’s parent(s) / guardian(s) shall be notified of the alleged violation of policy by a person designated by the Crisis Management Team.
3. When the Respondent is not certified, the Crisis Management Team shall assist the local church with the investigation of the complaint and the process to use to work through the complaint. This may include assistance with legal and public relations issues as well as interviews necessary for the investigation of the complaint. Decisions of resolution shall ultimately rest with the local church.
4. When the Respondent is certified through the Annual Conference, then the procedures outlined in this document shall be followed.
5. The person or persons who first report the alleged violation of policy will be asked to document their knowledge of this incident(s) and provide that documentation to the Crisis Management Team.
6. The Crisis Management Team will determine who needs to be interviewed to determine the nature of the alleged violation and its impact. All conversations shall be documented including such things as (but not exclusive of) date, time, place, and names of people involved. In addition, the substance of the conversation shall be documented, with the person interviewed asked to review notes for accuracy and to sign such notes. In addition, all contacts made and actions taken by the Crisis Management Team or Certification Authority are to be documented.
7. If a formal complaint is made, the Crisis Management Team shall provide the respondent with a copy of the complaint.
8. If the Respondent voluntarily withdraws from certification, the file shall be so marked and all pertinent data regarding the allegation and steps taken in response to it shall be placed in the person’s certification file and retained.
9. If the Respondent wishes to continue to function as a certified worker, then the Certification Authority, with counsel from the Crisis Management Team, may design a procedure for determining the fitness of the individual for this work. This may include such things as a psychological assessment, counseling, etc. as deemed appropriate to the circumstances. Payment of the cost of these is to be negotiated. Results will be made available to the Certification Authority and they, with the Crisis Management Team, shall make the final determination as to whether or not to reinstate a person’s certification.
10. Those making the allegations (“Complainant”), the parent(s) / guardian(s) of any minor involved, the Respondent, and any persons who supervise such persons shall be notified of any result of the investigation and final decision of the Certification Authority. In all cases all documentation shall be retained in a confidential, personal file.
11. The Crisis Management Team will determine when and with whom information needs to be shared. If investigations or allegations of abuse should come to the attention of the media, a response shall come from a spokesperson designated by the Bishop.
12. It shall be the goal of the Great Plains Annual Conference to provide supportive care to both the Complainant and the Respondent, and to restore such individuals to wholeness. Supportive care can include the procedures of the criminal justice system, provisions of the current Book of Discipline, appropriate counseling referrals and continued pastoral visitation, and may include an Advocate provided by the Great Plains Annual Conference.
13. . If the Complainant should desire to challenge the decision of the Certification Authority, he or she may utilize the complaint procedures of The 2012 Book of Discipline ¶2702 and following.
1. It is the expectation of the Great Plains Conference of The United Methodist Church that each church or charge will meet the requirements of the current Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church regarding the provision of either a parsonage or a housing allowance for the pastor or pastors appointed to that church or charge.
2. The pastor shall consider the parsonage as the church’s property; the church shall consider the parsonage as the pastor’s home.
3. Under some circumstances, the unusual needs of a particular clergy family or the exceptionally strong preference of the family or local church may warrant the choice of housing other than a church-owned parsonage. Such a choice may be pursued only under the supervision of the District Superintendent.
a. The term pastor or pastors in this policy means those people under the itinerant system and under appointment by the Bishop or assigned by the District Superintendent.
b. The term “housing allowance” means those funds provided by a local church or charge to its pastor for housing in lieu of a parsonage.
5. These policies also apply to district parsonages which are the responsibility of the Conference Trustees as advised by the Superintendency Committees.
6. The parsonage is the primary/required method of housing for pastors, churches and pastoral charges. In some settings, the parsonage has been sold, and a housing allowance is provided in accordance with the Book of Discipline as part of the support package for the pastor. At each appointment change, the housing allowance/parsonage requirement will be evaluated. The church/charge will need to be prepared to return to a parsonage provision if the situation requires it.
The Parsonage Option
1. If the parsonage option is utilized by the local church, charge, or District, then the following should be recognized by all of the parties involved: The parsonage is provided as a private home for the clergy and the clergy’s household.
2. The maintenance, upkeep, and improvements of the parsonage are the mutual responsibility of the church, charge, parish, or District (or Parsonage Committee), the Pastor/Parish Relations Committee (or other appropriate personnel committee), and the clergy’s household.
a. The Board of Trustees (or Parsonage Committee) shall be responsible for contracting and providing for the necessary repairs or improvements in a timely manner.
b. The Pastor/Parish Relations Committee (or appropriate personnel committee) shall be expected to consult with the clergy about the needs of the parsonage, and to advocate for Conference standards.
c. The clergy’s household shall care for the parsonage with the same respect as if it belongs to them, and be responsible for the repair of careless or unusual damage, as well as leaving the parsonage clean when moving from it.
3. We call attention of the local church or charge Board of Trustees and Pastor/Parish Relations Committee to ¶ 2544.3 of The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church-2012:
b) … In the case of the purchase of a parsonage, the Board of Trustees shall either:
(1) purchase a parsonage that has on the ground-floor level:
a) one room that can be used as a bedroom by a person with a disability;
b) one fully accessible bathroom; and
c) full accessible laundry facilities; or
(2) purchase a parsonage without the accessible features for people with disabilities specified above and remodel it within one year’s time, so that it does have those features.
It is expected that churches or charges will bring their parsonages into compliance with the requirements set forth below if they are not yet in compliance. The requirements provide a basic standard of living which parsonage families reasonably expect in every appointment.
4. It is required by The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church-2012 that:
a. An annual examination of the parsonage be made by the chairperson of the Board of Trustees or other responsible body (or Parsonage Committee), the chairperson of the Pastor/Parish Relations Committee or other like body, and the clergy and spouse (if any), at the convenience of the clergy’s household, and that a report of this examination be filed with the District Superintendent or other supervisory person or body.
b. A program of annual maintenance and upkeep be established and reported to the Church Council or the appropriate oversight body.
c. A long-range program be adopted to either bring the parsonage up to, or maintain, Conference and Disciplinary requirements.
d. Normal wear and use is expected on all parsonages. The church, charge, parish, or District electing the parsonage option shall establish a budget line item annually for the interior and exterior maintenance, redecorating, and/or modification of the parsonage to be used at the discretion of the parsonage resident(s) after consultation with the Pastor/Parish Relations Committee or other appropriate oversight body.
5. Requirements for Parsonages are as follows:
a. Living Area
i. carpeting or finished floors
ii. appropriate window treatments for privacy. All materials shall be fire retardant.
iii. guest closet.
iv. entry door shall have a window or device by which a caller may be observed before door is opened.
v. locks on all doors and windows providing ingress adequate to reasonably prevent home invasion.
vi. outlets for electricity, telephone and/or other telecommunication devices, and cable television, if available.
vii. electrical outlets in particular should be numerous enough for the electrical appliances that are common, such as TV, DVD player, computers, telephone answering machines, stereos, and etc., so that one outlet does not pose a fire risk.
viii. large living room with family room removed from it so that activities in one do not disturb people in the other.
ix. living room isolated from normal traffic pattern.
x. if there is no office/study in the church, the parsonage should have a room available for an office/study. The office/study should have built in book shelves. xi. adequate fire exits from all areas of the house; especially the basement. Fire extinguishers available on all levels.
b. Kitchen/Dining Area
i. refrigerator with freezer compartment of at least 2.5. cubic feet of capacity.
ii. stove with oven, big enough to prepare a meal for a household of four.
iii. dining area in or near kitchen or in separate room adequate for a household of four.
iv. permanent cupboards/storage spaces that are accessible and adequate for the storage of dishes, pots and pans, and food for a household of four.
v. sink and counter space with sufficient work area.
vii. garbage disposal.
viii. exhaust fan.
ix. fire extinguisher.
x. outlets for electricity, telephone and/or other telecommunication devices, and cable television a) electrical outlets in particular should be numerous enough for the electrical appliances that are common, such as microwave oven, can opener, food processor, coffee maker, and etc., so that one outlet does not pose a fire risk.
c. Bathroom Area
i. one full bath and one-half bath area, with fixtures and plumbing for same. One bath must be on the main floor.
ii. storage spaces for linens and other bathroom items.
iii. medicine cabinet.
iv. outlets for electricity that are Ground Fault Interrupters (GFI).
v. an exhaust fan is recommended.
d. Bedroom Area
i. three bedrooms, the master bedroom shall be at least 150 square feet, and the others are at least 100 square feet. If a two-story building, one bedroom shall be on the main floor.
ii. closet space in each bedroom.
iii. carpeting or finished floors and curtains or window treatments provided in each room.
iv. outlets for electricity, telephones and/or other telecommunication devices, and cable TV.
v. egress window in any basement bedroom: provision for egress in all bedrooms.
e. Laundry Facilities
i. automatic washer and dryer.
ii. water softener in hard water areas.
iii. cleanable flooring.
f. Storage Space
i. an indoor storage space for seasonal and other items.
i. replacement insurance coverage, including liability and vandalism on parsonage and church-owned furnishings.
ii. clergy must insure personal contents.
h. Heating and Air Conditioning
i. central heating, thermostatically controlled with provision for heating every room in the house.
ii. Carbon Monoxide detector(s), if the heating system is not electric.
iii. central air conditioning or 220 outlet for provided window air conditioning.
iv. equipment and screen for fireplace, as needed.
v. chimneys shielded to prevent entrance of foreign materials.
i. Garage and Grounds Area
i. two-car garage recommended, one-car garage required.
ii. storage space for outdoor equipment.
iii. safe place and approved container for disposing of trash.
iv. landscaped grounds and have appropriate sidewalks.
v. play area in the back.
vi. all turf grass management is the responsibility of the church using the most environmentally friendly methods possible. Lawn mowing will be the responsibility of the pastor.
i. minimum of 200 ampere entrance box.
ii. light fixtures in each room.
iii. circuits for all heavy duty appliances in appropriate places.
iv. accessible switches and outlets in every room.
v. all wiring and electrical devices (including GFI-protected outlets where specified) to meet National Electric Code.
k. Interior of House
i. window shades or other window treatments provided with appropriate insulation for energy efficiency.
ii. appropriate insulation as recommended by the federal government
iii. curtains or other window treatments for unusual size or number of windows.
iv. stairways big enough for moving furniture, and well lighted.
v. private telephone line (i.e., a line that is also the church’s line is not a private line as referred to here), and one telephone. vi. smoke detector(s).
l. Outside of House
i. TV antenna or satellite dish, if cable TV lines are not available, otherwise cable TV lines.
ii. lightning rods where recommended.
iii. combination storm windows and screens.
iv. provision for escape in case of fire.
m. Regular Testing
i. for termites.
ii. for water potability if the water for the parsonage is from a private well and not a public utility.
iii. testing should be conducted for Radon gas as is warranted.
iv. inspection of all heating equipment and church-owned appliances.
v. annual inspection of air conditioning and electrical wiring.
n. Maintenance Budget
i. for the local church or charge only: two percent (2%) of the replacement value of the parsonage shall be a budgeted item in the local churches or charges operational budget for maintenance.
6. Home Business
a. No business enterprise shall be located in a parsonage that would threaten the tax exempt status of the parsonage.
b. All questions about home businesses should be referred to the Conference Chancellor and all legal costs shall be paid by the pastor.
c. If, in the opinion of the Conference Chancellor, a particular home business would not threaten the tax-exempt status of a parsonage, this must be communicated in writing to the District Superintendent.
7. Care of Parsonages
a. It is the responsibility of the clergy to leave the parsonage in a reasonably undamaged and clean state, excluding normal wear and tear. It is the clergy’s responsibility to immediately report any extensive or unusual damage to the parsonage to the Chairpersons of the local Board of Trustees, the Pastor/Parish Relations Committee, the Parsonage Committee (if any), and the District Superintendent (if necessary).
b. Upon moving into a parsonage, the clergyperson, a representative of the Board of Trustees and a representative of the Pastor/Parish Relations Committee shall inspect the parsonage and jointly verify in writing its cleanliness and compliance with conference standards, noting in specific any exceptions found. A standard cleaning check sheet and a standard condition/damages worksheet shall be filled out and signed by all parties. Copies of both worksheets shall be sent to the District Superintendent.
c. Upon exiting the parsonage, the clergyperson, a representative of the Board of Trustees and a representative of the Pastor/Parish Relations Committee shall also inspect the parsonage using the condition/damages worksheet, noting any repairs that need to be made and whose responsibility it is to pay for such repairs. It will be noted which appliances remain in the parsonage. The location of warrantees and operating instructions for parsonage equipment shall be identified for the benefit of the incoming pastor. A copy of the exiting worksheet, signed by both parties, shall be forwarded to the District Superintendent along with the cleaning check sheet.
d. A photographic record shall be made of any damages discovered during the exit inspection and determined to be the responsibility of the clergyperson. This photograph shall be filed with the local church trustees, who will submit a bid for the necessary repair work. A copy of this bid will be forwarded to both the pastor and the District Superintendent in whose district the parsonage is located. The chairperson of the local Board of Trustees will notify the District Superintendent when these repair costs have been paid in full.
8. Housing Allowance in Lieu of Parsonage
If a housing allowance in lieu of a parsonage is the option that the church or charge provides:
a. the housing allowance in lieu of parsonage shall be set at fair market value.
i. The funds provided to a pastor or pastors for a housing allowance in lieu of a parsonage shall be used for payment of appropriate housing related expenses.
b. In any case, the housing allowance option and the amount offered must be agreed to by the local church or charge, the pastor, and the District Superintendent, and shall be an amount adequate to meet the housing requirements for parsonages given above.
c. Any other agreements as to a housing allowance (e.g., closing costs on a home purchased by the pastor, limitations on area, or buy-back agreements) are strictly between the church or charge, its pastor, and the District Superintendent. However, individual members shall be discouraged from making unsecured or signature loans to the current or former pastor(s) of the church or charge for the purchase of a home.
d. A church or charge that is moving from the parsonage option to the housing allowance option shall provide, in writing, to the District Superintendent:
i. a statement that the church or charge is planning such a change;
ii. include in the initial statement the church or charge’s long-range plans for funding a housing allowance.
e. Each church of a charge utilizing the housing allowance option shall annually report to the District Superintendent, in writing, their commitment to and plans for the funding of a housing allowance.
9. Parsonage Care in Multi-Church Charges and Two Charge Appointments Involving Clergy Couples.
a. The District Superintendent, Pastor(s), and Staff/Pastor-Parish Relations Committee shall consult and consider in which parsonage the pastor(s) will reside when there is more than one parsonage available. It is recommended that the Pastor(s) visit all available parsonages. The District Superintendent will be responsible for the final decision as to which parsonage shall be used.
b. Utilities and basic routine maintenance will be shared by each church in the charge or charges for the parsonage where the pastor(s) resides. The amount will be in proportion to the percentage each church pays toward the pastor's compensation.
c. Churches in such situations have two options regarding capital improvements to a parsonage:
i. The church holding title to the parsonage will be responsible for all capital improvements costs for the parsonage.
ii. All churches involved may choose to share the costs of capital improvements to a parsonage with the understanding that, pursuant to the current Book of Discipline, if such churches are no longer together as a charge, all churches who have contributed to capital improvements shall have a proportionate claim on the fair market value of the parsonage at the time of the dissolution of the charge.
10. Further Recommendations:
a. Prior to the purchase of a house to be used as a parsonage, a thorough professional termite inspection shall be conducted.
b. In any new construction:
i. energy conservation shall be a primary consideration.
ii. sound conditioning should be considered if a room is to be used as a conference or counseling room.
People eligible for a paid move
All clergy appointed full time to a local church/charge or conference staff position or a lay person assigned as a DSA (District Superintendent Assigned) or CLM (Certified Lay Minister) full time or part time to a local church/charge.
Allowance for Household Items
15,000 pounds maximum paid for by the Great Plains United Methodist Conference (GPUMC). Any weight over 15,000 pounds will be the responsibility of the moving pastor.
$750 maximum paid for by the GPUMC. Services which may be applied to this allowance are limited to the following items:
1. Packing material
2. Packing services provided by a moving company
3. Extra pickup or delivery, provided that the extra pickup or delivery are on the moving route and that no additional miles will be added to the move
4. Additional insurance premiums (moving companies reference additional value or valuation protection charge)
5. Piano, organ, antiques or other specialty services
7. Lodging up to a maximum of $75 per night.
The limitation on the amount allowed for these services will necessitate clergy securing packing cartons and doing most of their own packing. The maximum allowance for packing and special services may be waived for emergency or unusual situations, subject to the prior written recommendation by the District Superintendent and approval by the Conference Treasurer/Director of Administrative Services. The Accessorial Allowance is not applicable to weight overages.
Clergy couples will be entitled to up to two moving allowances only if they are required to maintain separate housing accommodations by their appointments. For clergy couples who need an extra pick-up and/or delivery because they serve separate charges but live in the same house and have offices located in their respective churches, an allowance of up to $200 above the maximum moving allowance is available. Exceptions for overages for clergy couples will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis by the Conference Treasurer/Director of Administrative Services. In addition, an amount of up to $500 over the maximum moving allowance is available for the moving weight over 15,000 pounds. (Rationale: clergy couples often have two libraries, two sets of files, and extra office items.)
People in other appointive statuses
Requests for exceptions to these guidelines must be made in writing to the District Superintendent and the Conference Treasurer/Director of Administrative Services.
The Conference Office will send a moving packet to the pastor upon receiving notification of the appointment change. The packet will inform the pastor of their maximum move benefit and will include a copy of these moving guidelines. Directions for completing the moving packet and any additional relevant information will be included in a memo from the Moving Coordinator.
1. Licensed company move option
For any person appointed/assigned to serve an appointment in the Great Plains Annual Conference, the pastor shall be responsible to make all arrangements for his/her move with the moving company of his/her choice. It is recommended that two or more estimates be secured to obtain best pricing. Pastors should be aware that some movers use the state approved “tariff” system of billing and others bill by the hour. Estimates can be obtained for either type of move to determine which might be most cost effective. The pastor is responsible for coordinating his/her pick-up and drop-off dates with the church from which he/she is moving and with the church to which he/she is moving. Conflicts in scheduling are to be referred to the District Superintendent. On request of the moving pastor or their District Superintendent, the Moving Coordinator shall be authorized to send a letter of certification when a moving company requires verification of a pastor’s authorization to arrange a move at the Conference’s expense.
2. Self-move option
A letter with original moving expense receipts and personal vehicle mileage logs should be sent to the Moving Coordinator for reimbursement. Charges for rental trucks, trailers, and other equipment may be directly billed to the Conference (arrangements to be made prior to the move date). Reimbursement will be to the pastor only except for those expenses that are pre-arranged. Locally hired labor and packing materials are allowed expenses as is mileage at the IRS Approved Rate for Moving for the use of personal vehicles to haul personal belongings. Pastors choosing the self-move option will be given a taxable $500 stipend on top of the above described approved expenses for selecting this option.
Reimbursement for moving expenses or direct payment of moving expenses are taxable income for clergy moving 50 miles or less, as well as retired clergy involved in a retirement move. This applies to moves by a licensed mover or a self-move.
Note: A 1099 will be issued at the end of the year to pastors with taxable moves.
The Great Plains United Methodist Conference shall have 3 co-chancellors: Gail Perry of Lincoln, Patricia Reeder of Topeka and David Seely of Wichita. Their law partners may be asked to provide specialized legal services as well.
The Great Plains United Methodist Conference (GPUMC) will obtain Worker Compensation insurance to not only cover conference staff but staff (including pastors) of all local churches within the GPUMC. Each local church will be billed for the actual cost of the premium incurred based on compensation paid to staff of each church.
The churches of the former Nebraska and Kansas West Conferences will continue to be responsible to purchase property, liability, and all other coverage necessary to protect each church and its assets.
Churches in the former Kansas East Conference will continue to be covered by the current group policy that provides all insurance needed by each local church. (The current “opt out” provision will continue to be available for churches under 50 in membership.) This group will continue unless or until a petition is sent to and approved by members of the Great Plains United Methodist Conference who are clergy appointed to and lay members from churches within the bounds of the former Kansas East Conference.