Amendments to the bylaws of the Church of the Brethren and two business items originally brought by Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT) in 2017--and then deferred for a year--were approved by the 2018 Annual Conference. Also approved were business items related to the Pastoral Compensation and Benefits Advisory Committee. A proposal for a denominational leadership gathering was turned down.
Business related to BBT
“Brethren Values Investing” was approved to amend BBT Articles of Incorporation to change terminology from “socially responsible investing” to “Brethren values investing.” Socially responsible is a term that may mean different things to different people. However, BBT has derived its investment screens by reviewing Annual Conference statements and applying those values, and for that reason in 2016 the BBT board approved using the term “Brethren values investing.”
“Polity for Electing Brethren Benefit Trust Board Directors” reduces from four to two the number of nominations needed for election of directors to the BBT board. It has been the practice for four nominees to be sought for a preliminary ballot that goes to Standing Committee, which winnows that number down to two nominees for each position for the final ballot. BBT is having increasing difficulty finding four nominees for each position, particularly since the nominees need to have very specific skill sets. In addition, BBT has been finding that nominees who are not elected may not be willing to be nominated again. The approved change reduces to two the number of nominees the BBT board has to bring. If no other nominees come through the regular nominating process, those two names will appear on the ballot.
Amendments to bylaws of the Church of the Brethren
The Conference adopted several amendments to the bylaws, as recommended by the Mission and Ministry Board in response to the 2017 Review and Evaluation Committee report. The amendments:
-- affirm the denominational Leadership Team’s responsibility to coordinate denominational envisioning, adding the following additional responsibility to “assume responsibility for how denominational vision shall be implemented, giving consideration to emphasizing a unified vision among denomination, districts, and congregations”;
-- clarify the function of the Leadership Team to give oversight to the Annual Conference Office and director, including “general oversight for Annual Conference, in consultation with the Annual Conference program and arrangements committee, and the Conference director; general oversight of Annual Conference budget in consultation with the board of directors; serve as executive committee for Annual Conference; participate in the hiring and periodic review of the Conference director at the invitation of the general secretary”;
-- add a district executive to the membership of the Leadership Team, to be appointed by the Council of District Executives, approved by Annual Conference, serving a three-year term;
-- change terminology including updating the name of Southern Ohio District to “Southern Ohio-Kentucky District,” using the term “closed sessions” in place of “executive sessions,” and using the term “voting members” in place of “at large members” for Mission and Ministry Board members who serve with the chair and chair-elect on the executive committee of the board.
Business related to Pastoral Compensation and Benefits Advisory Committee
A change of polity was approved for how the district executive representative to the Pastoral Compensation and Benefits Advisory Committee is named. It aligns polity with current practice, allowing the Council of District Executives to nominate the district executive representative.
Delegates also approved a 2 percent increase to the 2019 minimum cash salary table for pastors, at the recommendation of the Pastoral Compensation and Benefits Advisory Committee.
Proposal for a denominational leadership gathering
The delegates did not approve a recommendation from last year’s Review and Evaluation Committee for a gathering of denominational leadership every three to five years. The action had been delayed for a year for a feasibility study. The Program Feasibility Committee reported to the 2018 Conference its findings that current structures provide enough collaboration and an additional leadership gathering is unnecessary and would represent an added expense.
-- Frances Townsend and Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford contributed to this report.
For more coverage of Annual Conference go to www.brethren.org/ac/2018/coverage .
The news coverage of Annual Conference 2018 is made possible through the work of communications staff and a volunteer news team: Frank Ramirez, Conference Journal editor; photographers Glenn Riegel, Regina Holmes, Keith Hollenberg, Donna Parcell, Laura Brown; writers Frances Townsend, Karen Garrett, Alyssa Parker; youth team member Allie Dulabaum; web staff Jan Fischer Bachman, Russ Otto; Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services; Wendy McFadden, publisher. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.