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    United Methodists of Upper New YorkLiving the Gospel. Being God's Love.

    news article

    Board of Trustees Report at AC2022

    October 8, 2022 / By Tara Barnes, Director of Denominational Relations, United Women in Faith

    The Upper New York (UNY)Conference Board of Trustees presented its 2022 report at the UNY Annual Conference on Oct. 7. The Rev. Pamela Klotzbach, president of the board, presented an overview of the board’s work, which includes the purchase, sale and maintenance of Conference properties. The Trustees also manage the Conference’s master insurance program. The board also presented resolutions for church closures, church disaffiliations, and an update on the lawsuits brought against the Conference under the Child Victims Act.

    “We’ve been involved with property upkeep, inspections, sales of church properties, investments, insurance coverage, the Child Victims Act, our Boy Scout relationship, and working with disaffiliations, our individual trustees have taken on a heavy load for all of you,” she said, thanking the board’s volunteer members.

    Treasurer Kathy King-Griswold offered the board’s unaudited 2020 and 2021 financials, sharing the Conferences assets, revenue, and expenses for that period. She shared that more than $1 million from the sale of church properties has been transferred to the conference’s New Beginnings Fund, which provides seed funding for New Faith Communities. She also reported the continued abeyance of the conference trustees guaranteed loan program until current balances are paid.

    Pastor Jack Keating shared details about the board’s work with property and insurance.

    “Your board of trustees is currently managing 36 closed church locations, two land-only properties, 11 district parsonages, one episcopal residence, one Conference Center, five camp and retreat centers, and seven legacy issue properties,” he said. “Your board also maintains an insurance subcommittee who helps to design, implement, and monitor our conference-wide insurance program underwritten by Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Company.”

    Churches can visit the Upper New York Conference website for resources on insurance, background checks, boiler inspections, a free water sensor program and more.

    Church closures

    Since the previous Annual Conference, 15 United Methodist congregations in UNY made the decision to close their church buildings. The Rev. Mike Weeden on behalf of the Cabinet brought the recommendations on closure of churches before the Conference.

    UNY Resident Bishop Mark Webb took a moment to acknowledge the churches that were closing.

    “We celebrate the ministry that is represented in each of these local churches—years and years and years of being the hands and feet and voice of the gospel in their communities. Their ministry continues through their legacy,” he said. “We recognize that this is always a painful moment in the life of our conference, because we’re acknowledging that the life cycle of a church has ended, but we also celebrate that the fruit of all of these churches and the power of the Gospel continues to be strong in the midst of the places where these churches served faithfully for so many years.”

    The recommendations to close all 15 churches were supported. These resolutions can be found on pages 21-34 in the 2022 Annual Conference Journal Vol. 1 and in the Journal updates online.

    Child Victims Act

    The Trustees Report also included an update on the lawsuits brought against the conference under the Child Victims Act.

    The New York State Child Victims Act was signed into law in August 2019 and opened a window for retroactive filing of civil cases by victims of childhood sexual abuse against entities and organizations like schools, churches and Conferences, explained the Rev. Sara Baron, chair of the Conference Board of Pensions and Health Benefits. The filing provisions expired in August 2021.

    “By the end of the year the grand total of cases filed against the Conference and its churches stands at 63, 46 of which name the Conference and/or one of its churches as a defendant due to its association with a church-chartered Boy Scouts of America,” she said.

    The Rev. Klotzbatch shared that two of the cases have been settled through careful and compassionate mediation. The 46 Boy Scout related cases ultimately fell under the jurisdiction of a federal bankruptcy court convened for the purpose of confirming the Boy Scout of America’s bankruptcy reorganization plan, including the resolution of all sexual abuse claims against the organization, she said. A denomination-level negotiating team mediated directly with the attorneys for the Boy Scouts of America, survivors, and insurers to negotiate a fair and just settlement of all claims against all United Methodist churches and conferences.

    The Rev. Klotzbatch reported that the Upper New York Conference’s share of the fund is $1.25 million.

    The Conference Child Victim Acts team is made up of representatives from the Board of Trustees, the Council of Finance and Administration, the Board of Pensions and Health Benefits, and the Cabinet.

    The cross-committee group has identified assets that could be used to underwrite the costs of the Conference’s legal fees.

    “These include internally designated funds administered by the conference Board

    of Trustees, operating reserves overseen by the Council of Finance and Administration, and Pension and Health reserve funds overseen by the Conference Board of Pension and Health Benefits,” said the Rev. Weeden, noting that vested pension funds held by Wespath are not available as possible resources because of the restricted nature of such funds.

    “Other assets, such as real estate, offices, district parsonages, and Camp and Retreat Ministries are vital to our ministries,” he continued. “These assets, however essential to our present and future ministries, may be leveraged to generate funds to support healing and reconciliation of CVA claims. To the extent such measures are ultimately required, the ministries of our conference could be severely diminished. The Conference Council on Finance and Administration under authority granted by the Book of Discipline is working with conference administrative teams to develop a final funding plan and will share this at a future annual conference.”

    Bishop Webb closed this portion of the report with a prayer for healing.


    Disaffiliation is a process by which local congregations can leave The United Methodist Church. Churches who no longer desire to be affiliated with the denomination disaffiliate to become independent entities or join a different denomination. The only means to disaffiliate is via ¶2553 in The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church.

    Of the almost 800 churches in the Upper New York Conference, 42 are currently in a disaffiliation discernment process, eight of which brought disaffiliation resolutions to the 2022 Annual Conference for approval. 

    Approval by Annual Conference is required for disaffiliation.

    The Rev. Klotzbach explained the process for exiting churches.

    “A congregation should engage in churchwide reflection and conversation and prayer and discernment to determine if disaffiliation is the next faithful step for them. If this is determined, the congregation must then seek permission from the Conference Board of Trustees and the congregation’s district superintendent to begin the formal disaffiliation process. The steps in this process include holding a duly called church conference to consider the resolution to disaffiliate. To be adopted, this resolution must pass by two-thirds majority of members present. If adopted by the church conference, the request to disaffiliate must then be approved by the annual conference, in this case by a simple majority. Prior to the annual conference vote, the exiting congregation must form a new corporate entity and make all required payments to the conference. The disaffiliation becomes final once New York State Courts approve the decision and the property is formally transferred,” she said.

    “The current policy requires a disaffiliating church to pay any unpaid apportionments for the 12 months immediately prior to the disaffiliation date and an additional 12 months of apportionments, an equal amount to the church's pro rata share of the annual conferences unfunded pension obligations, any unpaid direct bill on paid property, liability insurance, health insurance, CPP or pensions, and any costs resulting from the transfer of property, including but not limited to all closing costs.”

    The next opportunities to submit requests for disaffiliation are March 25, June 2, and October 14 in 2023.  

    All requests for disaffiliation were approved by the 2022 conference. The eight disaffiliating churches are Alexander United Methodist Church, Ava: Hilltop United Methodist Church, Cherry Creek United Methodist Church, County Line United Methodist Church, Great Valley United Methodist Church, Hannibal United Methodist Church, South Corinth United Methodist Church, and Wesley United Methodist Church (Cornerstone District).

    Once disaffiliation is final, members of these congregations are no longer United Methodist and cannot serve on United Methodist teams, boards, agencies, or other leadership positions within The United Methodist Church. Pastors remain United Methodist until they surrender their credentials.

    The entire Trustees Report was adopted by the Conference.

    The Trustees report can be found on pages 81-22 the Journal. Two additional church closures and the disaffiliation resolutions can be found on the online updates to the Journal.

    TAGGED / Annual Conference 2022

    With more than 125,000 members, United Methodists of Upper New York comprises of more than 800 local churches and New Faith Communities in 12 districts, covering 48,000 square miles in 49 of the 62 counties in New York state. Our vision is to “live the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to be God’s love with our neighbors in all places."