UMC Call to Action Copyright Questions

The following is the text of an e-mail just sent to the Abingdon Press permissions address, which appears on page 2 of the Call to Action Steering Team Report.

I have two questions regarding permissions and the Call to Action Steering Team Report (the “Report”).  I have published this e-mail on my blog: www.thesunroseclear.com.  I will post the official response to these two questions.  If it is instead easier for me to link to an official response, I will happily do so.

(I believe my previous blog postings constitute “fair use.”)

Background

¶ 509 from The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church 2008 (the “Discipline”) reads:

Speaking for the Church—1. No person, no paper, no organization, has the authority to speak officially for The United Methodist Church, this right having been reserved exclusively to the General Conference under the Constitution. Any written public policy statement issued by a general Church agency shall clearly identify either at the beginning or at the end that the statement represents the position of that general agency and not necessarily the position of The United Methodist Church

The above paragraph concludes with a footnote referring to Judicial Council Decision 458.  I believe it is fair to summarize Decision No. 458 as stating that no agency may answer on behalf of The United Methodist Church, or sue on behalf of The United Methodist Church, in any legal proceedings.

In addition, ¶ 140 from the Discipline states:

Under the Constitution and disciplinary procedures set forth in this Book of Discipline, “The United Methodist Church” as a denominational whole is not an entity, nor does it possess legal capacities and attributes. It does not and cannot hold title to property, nor does it have any officer, agent, employee, office, or location.  Conferences, councils, boards, agencies, local churches, and other units bearing the name “United Methodist” are, for the most part, legal entities capable of suing and being sued and possessed of legal capacities.

The notice of copyright in the Discipline (page iv) reads:

Copyright © 2008 The United Methodist Publishing House.

The first notice of copyright in the Report (page 2) reads:

Copyright © 2010 by The United Methodist Church

Based on the above discussion, I find it difficult to believe that The United Methodist Church is the copyright owner of the Report.  Even in the extremely unlikely event that the General Conference has already adopted the Report (perhaps by meeting secretly in 2010), it would make even less sense for the General Conference to consign the Report’s copyright to a “denominational whole” incapable of both ownership and litigating infringement claims.

In addition to the above first notice of copyright, the Report contains other notices of copyright that read “© 2010 Towers Watson. All rights reserved.”  These notices of copyright appear on pages 46 through 99 inclusive.  If the Towers Watson contribution constituted work made for hire, typically Towers Watson should not have any claim of copyright for these pages of the Report.

Questions

  1. Who owns the copyright to the Call to Action Steering Team Report?
  2. Does Towers Watson have any copyright ownership regarding the Call to Action Steering Team Report?

Thank you.

S. B. Wiegner

[UPDATE 2012-04-08] No response.  I understand that this might not have technically been a “permissions question”, but still . . .  Anyway, there are other ways of seeking answers to my questions.

UMC Call to Action – A look at Apex

The added benefit is that we now have a presentation of complex data with informative findings that have been verified by a thoroughly independent and objective group of experts using state-of-the-art research tools.

Call to Action Steering Team Report, page 41

The above quote refers to the Towers Watson contribution to the Call to Action Steering Team Report (the “Report”). In this brief (for me) post, I want to look at the contribution from Apex Health Care Group LLC. Does it qualify as the work of a “thoroughly independent and objective group of experts”?

Except where noted, this post draws from the Report’s Appendix 9 (Appendix A: Environment Review and Assessment).  All images are “as-is” from the full Report.

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A closer look at the UMC Call to Action (Afterword)

(This is the Afterword in a series taking a closer look at the United Methodist Church’s (UMC) Call to Action Steering Team Report.

The first part is here.)

As an infant, I was baptized in a United Methodist congregation.  I left the denomination when I was old enough to decide for myself where to spend Sunday mornings.  The past few years have seen me returning to church.  This returning is very much a story-in-progress, and in any event is best left for another time and perhaps another place.

The Call to Action Steering Team Report claims to be something new under the sun.  This Report reminds me of some of the reasons why I left the church for the first time.  Here are two of them.

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A closer look at the UMC Call to Action Part 4

(This is the fourth part in a series taking a closer look at the United Methodist Church’s (UMC) Call to Action Steering Team Report.

The first part is here.)

In this post, I take a step back and look at the Report’s bigger picture.

“Increase the number of vital congregations”

The Report repeatedly emphasizes a quantifiable goal: to “increase the number of vital congregations.”  We see this goal stated on pages 14, 23, 26, and 29.  The last sentence on page 23 indicates the urgency:

Anticipated resources and the urgency to increase the number of vital congregations require a near-term reduction in scope and scale of general Church work to regain momentum.

The current webpage (screenshot) containing parts of the Report has this introductory sentence (emphasis in original):

Extensive research analyzed the factors that made our churches vital and vibrant. The biggest concern? There are so few vital churches.

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A closer look at the UMC Call to Action Part 3

(This is the third part in a series taking a closer look at the United Methodist Church’s (UMC) Call to Action Steering Team Report.

The first part is here.)

In this post, I examine the bias of the Report’s vitality index. Specifically, I’m looking at how often the vitality index finds congregations vital. (This assignment of vitality takes place prior to the analysis that discovers the “drivers of vitality.”)  The Report’s stated goal is to increase the number of vital congregations.  If we’re trying to increase the number of vital congregations, it’s only fair that we make sure everyone is starting in the same place.  If a clearly identifiable group is in fact starting out behind other groups, fairness requires us to deal with this imbalance before we start any great initiatives.

What does the Report say about how often different kinds of churches are called vital?

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A closer look at the UMC Call to Action Part 2

This is the second part in a series taking a closer look at the United Methodist Church’s (UMC) Call to Action Steering Team Report.

The first part is here.

Correlation by itself does not imply causation

(Wikipedia’s article on this subject.)

For correlation, I’m going to use a description from John Allen Paulos:

There are various kinds and various measures of statistical correlation, but all of them indicate that two or more quantities are related in some way and in some degree, not necessarily that one causes the other (Beyond Numeracy: John Allen Paulos; “Correlation, Intervals, and Testing”).

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A closer look at the UMC Call to Action Part 1

UPDATE (2012-01-04): this entire series available as PDF here.

Abstract

The United Methodist Church’s Call to Action Steering Team Report (the “Report”) is an attempt to increase congregational vitality throughout the denomination.  The Report claims to be “predicated upon sound and accurate understandings.”  In this series of blog posts, I argue that it displays basic problems in statistical analysis and interpretation.  These problems culminate with the Report’s “vitality index” calculating that a predominantly white congregation is eight times more likely to be vital than a predominantly Hispanic congregation.

I conclude with some more general observations. Continue reading