UMNS Photo by Mike DuBose
Now that we’re all back home from Tampa and have had a little time to rest and reflect a bit, I thought I would give you a brief overview of my perspective of the actions of General Conference, and how the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry will respond to the mandates we received. The good news is that the GBHEM petition to reduce the size of our board of directors from 64 to 22 passed at the eleventh hour. Along with others, I worked with the Plan UMC folks because I saw it as a good compromise between IOT and Plan B. Compromise means that you don’t get everything. I was as stunned as everyone else by the Judicial Council decision.
As a consequence, the only restructuring changes enacted were the changes the boards and agencies brought forward. We had put two years of thought into the response to A Call to Action. In cooperation with the Financial Administration legislative committee, the general secretaries crafted the budgeting of $5 million for Central Conference Theological Education and $7 million for a Young Clergy Initiative out of our proposed World Service budget with no new money. Instead of taking the 6.6 percent cut proposed by GCFA, we volunteered to take cut of approximately 10 percent in order to fund these new initiatives in a spirit of collaboration and sacrifice. I am fully persuaded that these initiatives are the right priorities for the church.
The General Conference did take action. Not the IOT action, not the Plan B action, and not the Plan UMC action. The money saved by reducing board sizes was invested in Central Conference Theological Education and young clergy support. I believe this to be a good outcome. This was done without increasing the budget proposed by GCFA, and without millions of dollars in legal fees expended to dissolve the incorporations of the boards and agencies.
The Central Conference Theological Education Initiative leadership will be convened by the Council of Bishops. GBHEM is moving forward to implement the Young Clergy Initiative. I have consulted with the Rev. Adam Hamilton and other leaders to convene a Young Clergy Initiative Summit to explore the direction needed to fulfill the vision of the General Conference.
I want to commend the work of the Ministry and Higher Education legislative committee under the steady and capable leadership of its chair, the Rev. Dr. David Bard. His highly effective leadership helped the group work through a wide range of petitions dealing with many controversial issues in a collaborative spirit.