Church financial reports, updates on the progress of the Mission Alignment Coordinating Council and approving Standing Rules for the Center for Faith and Giving, were among the worshipful work that was accomplished by the Administrative Committee during its fall meeting in Indianapolis last week.
Also, in a unanimous affirmation, the Administrative Committee joined General Minister and President Sharon Watkins and other Disciples leaders in supporting the National Convocation’s move of its 21st Biennial Session. The National Convocation has pulled out of Charleston, S.C. as a witness against the continued presence of the confederate flag on the grounds of South Carolina’s capitol in Columbia. The Convocation Biennial Session will now take place July 29-Aug. 1, 2010 in Oklahoma City, Okla.
“The Convocation leadership made a difficult but courageous decision in moving their biennial session,” said GMP Watkins. “South Carolina Disciples supported them in the decision. This is a movement to stand together as church.”
Moderator Larry Brown agreed. “This is a point that we can say not only do we affirm, but what else can we do?” asked Brown. “I have relatives who are not a part of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and they are always asking me what we are doing to make a difference. This is something that we can do to show that we stand for something that is right.”
The Administrative Committee serves as the board of directors for the Office of General Minister and President, and fulfills other duties and responsibilities as are assigned to it by the General Board. The committee meeting, which took place Oct. 29-31, was chaired by Brown, who was accompanied by First Vice Moderator Juan Rodriguez, who led worship, and Second Vice Moderator Marilyn F. Williams.
The committee also received the nine-month Financial Reports from the Office of the General Minister and President, which are currently ahead of the spending plan and on track to finish 2009 in the black. “We modified our spending plans in May and made the hard decisions then,” said Associate General Minister and Vice President Todd Adams. "We are pretty much going to carry over the modified spending plan in the hopes that we can meet our income estimates for next year.” He said although recent growth in the equities markets will help Disciples-held investments generate more income over the coming months, it will take years to get back to breaking even because the markets lost so much in value in 2008 and 2009.
The committee approved the 2010 budgets for the OGMP. The budgets project that the OGMP will end 2010 in the black. This was accomplished by raising health insurance deductibles for employees, foregoing staff raises and maintaining a tight fiscal policy for all operations.
“As difficult as it has been financially for the Church, we bring a pretty positive financial picture to this committee,” Watkins said in her GMP report. “This has happened partly because of the decisions the church made regarding the shifting of responsibilities, realignment and regrouping.” In particular, she referenced the merger of Church Finance Council into the General Assembly.
As she looks forward to the next biennium, Watkins said her primary goals have to do with leadership, denominational identity, and children, youth and young adults. The church must implement new models of leadership to facilitate cross-ministry planning, coordination, communication and implementation, and reclaim its core identity as a “Movement for Wholeness in a Fragmented World,” she said. She issued a challenge to leaders in the church, both lay and clergy, to re-engage and renew the creative efforts to reach children and youth.
The Administrative Committee also was told that the work of the Mission Alignment Coordinating Council (MACC) continues. A progress report was presented on all nine proposals. The proposals were approved by the 2009 General Board.
The MACC was formed after Watkins participated in three years of conversations with congregations, regions, and general ministries. It is founded upon the vision, mission, and mission priorities articulated in the 2020 Vision, as well as input from Racial/Ethnic ministries, moderators and other leaders and organizations of the Church.
The committee did not approve a request by Church Extension that the United Church of Christ Insurance Board (UCCIB) be recognized as an “Other Organization of the Church.” The Administrative Committee is requesting that the governance committee of the General Board review the criteria for “Recognized” and “Other” organizations and then revisit the request from Church Extension.
In addition, the committee received a report on the implementation of the new changes in the ordering of ministry, General Assembly Resolution 0922, “Theological Foundations and Policies and Criteria for the Ordering of Ministry,” a policy change that was approved at the 2009 General Assembly in Indianapolis.
“I am just overwhelmed and thrilled about the energy of the people who are serving on these implementation teams,” said Ben Bohren, chair of the General Commission on Ministry (GCOM), which is implementing the changes. “They are energetic and competent.” The new ordering of ministry policy will not be fully put in place until August 2011, to allow time for implementation by regions and congregations. The next General Board meeting is April 17-20, 2010. The Administrative Committee will meet again preceding the General Board on April 16-17, 2010.
By James Patterson