Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Letter to a Bishop in W. PA!

Hello! Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Theo and I am Administrative Assistant to the person who is in charge of the web site, Circuit Rider's Range. His given name is Clayton D. Harriger and he is an ordained elder in the Western PA Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. There are United Methodists, including those in positions of leadership, who get extremely upset with him about some things. If you ever go to his web site, you will see what I mean. Anyway, a resolution was passed in the 2009 session of the Western PA Annual Conference in which each clergy person was to pay $25 to support a fund which would assist clergy on what is described as "short-term disability." Each member of the clergy was expected to pay this, including those who are retired. CDH recently received a letter from Bishop Thomas J. Bickerton reminding him that he had not yet paid the $25.00. So, CDH responded with a letter and enclosed a check for $25.00. BTW, Theo is my shortened name which CDH gave me -- an explanation about my longer name is given at the web site. Now, here is the letter.

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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Bishop Thomas J. Bickerton
Western PA Annual Conference
The United Methodist Church

Dear Bishop Bickerton:

I received your letter reminding me that I owe $25.00 as my part in the one time contribution (pertaining to RS 404 – 2009 Annual Conference session) which is expected of all clergy in the conference. This is to inform you that I am paying this under protest. The reasons are as follows:

First, whoever dreamed this debacle up didn’t give any serious thought to fairness in such an assessment. There is a big difference between my income and yours, clergy with the “plush” appointments in the conference, the district superintendents, and even those clergy at the lower end of the salary scale. The last I heard, bishops are making something like a 6 figure annual salary, are they not? Therefore, let those in the upper salary ranges pay more on this “short-term disability” program and show some mercy toward us retirees.

Second, I own my own home and pay taxes on my property. I pay all expenses to maintain my home. I pay for all furnishings for my home. I pay all utility expenses for my home. I pay the insurance on my home. You and the active clergy on the other hand have some very nice perks – you have your home furnished with major appliances and you do not personally pay taxes on your home. You do not pay maintenance costs for the home in which you live. You do not pay the utilities for your home. And you do not have to pay the insurance on your home, except if you choose to have your personal possessions insured. But that is far different than the total insurance bill for a residence such as the one in which I and my wife presently live!

Third, you who are active clergy have advantages in health coverage that we retirees do not have. We were kicked out of the dental plan a few years ago, and finally someone decided that we retirees should have some coverage, but it is nothing to make the front page of the local newspaper. I have paid a few thousand dollars just for dental work alone because of extreme limitations in the plan as applied to retirees. So I am having expenses where you in the active clergy category do not!

Finally, there has been a heavy stress on the “connectional system” and “covenant” – you have been one to remind us in the conference of this. OK, why are such words as “fairness” and “equity” obviously missing when it comes to the “connection” and RS 404? The retirees’ share should have been in the $5 to $7 range maximum, while you active clergy could far easier pay $200.00 or $150.00 than I can pay the 5 bucks!

Enclosed is my check for $25.00 which is submitted under protest.

Still contending at, blogging at and warning at

Clayton D. Harriger, Elder in full connection, W. PA Annual Conference

PS – On another issue related to the “connection” – what hasn’t been realistically addressed is the “infection within the connection” which is why the United Methodist Church is in a state of decline!

cc: The Rev. Alyce Weaver Dunn, newly appointed DS for the Johnstown District

I did not sit in the assembly of the mockers, nor did I rejoice; I sat alone because of Your hand, for You have filled me with indignation. --- Jeremiah 15:17

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