The Standing Committee of district delegates has begun its work ahead of the 2017 Annual Conference. Standing Committee meetings began Sunday evening, June 25, in Grand Rapids, Mich., and continue through Wednesday morning, June 28. The meetings are presided over by Annual Conference moderator Carol Scheppard, with moderator-elect Samuel Sarpiya and Conference secretary James Beckwith.
The Conference officers recommended that, for this year’s Standing Committee, a process for deliberation akin to a consensus model be used. The moderator characterized this style of decision making as “in the spirit of consensus building.” The recommendation included requiring a two-thirds vote within Standing Committee for each recommendation the committee sends to the delegate body of Annual Conference this year. The Standing Committee adopted the officers’ recommendation.
The officers explained that this process is being tried out after complaints were received last year when Standing Committee adopted a controversial recommendation by the slimmest of simple majorities, but then sent it on to the delegate body with a requirement for a two-thirds majority.
Other intentions for the process include enhancing discussion and discernment, allowing for more questions and clarification of the “big issues,” encouraging more open sharing of views, and the “building of motions together” as a whole committee.
The new process was put into practice immediately, as Standing Committee began deliberation of the first two items of new business coming to the Conference, which are two recommendations received from On Earth Peace: “Polity for Agencies” (see the full text of this item at www.brethren.org/ac/2017/business/NB-1-Polity-for-Agencies.pdf ) and “Patient Hope in Matters of Conscience” (see www.brethren.org/ac/2017/business/NB-2-Patient-Hope-in-Matters-of-Conscience.pdf ). The committee will continue deliberation of these two recommendations on Tuesday, June 27.
Standing Committee took action on the other two new business items received from Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT). The committee recommended their adoption by the Annual Conference. “Brethren Values Investing” recommends using that phrase in place of the term “socially responsible investing” in the denomination’s documents (see www.brethren.org/ac/2017/business/NB-3-Brethren-Values-Investing.pdf ). “Polity for Electing Brethren Benefit Trust Board Directors” would reduce the number of nominations BBT is required to contribute to the ballot to a minimum of two, for each elected position on the BBT board ( www.brethren.org/ac/2017/business/NB-4-Polity-for-Electing-BBT-Board-Directors.pdf ).
Among other business today, Standing Committee received a report from the denomination’s Leadership Team, held a consultation with the Council of District Executives (CODE), and engaged in some discussion of an item of unfinished business, “The Authority of Annual Conference and Districts regarding the Accountability of Ministers, Congregations, and Districts.” This document responds to the “Query: Same Sex Weddings” that came to last year’s Conference. Because the Standing Committee does not act on items of unfinished business, no recommendations were made. Find the full text of the “Authority” document at www.brethren.org/ac/2017/business/UB-4-Authority-and-Accountability-final.pdf . A FAQ prepared by the Leadership Team and CODE is at www.brethren.org/ac/2017/business/qa-regarding-ub4.pdf .