Process Regarding Unfunded Annual Conference Mandates

1999 Annual Conference Report


A process statement regarding Unfunded Conference Mandates jointly written by an Annual Conference Committee and the General Board was approved by the General Board of the Church of the Brethren at its meeting of October 21-22, 1996, for recommendation to the Annual Conference Standing Committee.

The statement was approved, as written, by the Standing Committee in its meetings immediately prior to the 1997 Annual Conference in Long Beach, California. The paper was then scheduled for presentation to the 1998 Annual Conference delegate body, which would be meeting in Orlando, Florida. However, at the Long Beach Conference in 1997 and the Orlando Conference in 1998, several actions were taken regarding the structure and accountability of the General Board and other agencies in relation to Annual Conference which rendered the wording of the original process statement obsolete. In their awareness of these past and pending actions of Annual Conference, the 1998 Standing Committee recommended to the 1998 delegate body that they, “accept the intent of the paper, refer it to Standing Committee for revision in line with current organizational life and structure, and report back to the 1999 Annual Conference.” This recommendation was adopted by the delegate body.

Standing Committee, through the Annual Conference Officers, appointed a commit tee of three members of Standing Committee to follow through with revisions to the process statement to be brought back to the 1999 Annual Conference. Those appointed to the revision committee were: John David Bowman, Lititz, PA; Gayle Hunter Sheller Springfield, OR; and Paul Schrock, Indianapolis, IN. John David Bowman later resigned from the committee.

Action of the Revision Committee

Although the business item had been referred specifically to Standing Committee for revision, the Conference officers and the revision committee recognized that consultation with the General Board and other agencies accountable to Annual Conference during the rewrite was vitally important in arriving at a workable process statement. To this end, the boards of each of the agencies accountable to Annual Conference were informed and were asked to participate in reworking the process statement.

The revision committee also recognized that the actions of the General Board in 1996, the Standing Committee in 1997 and the Annual Conference in 1998 affirmed the intent of the process statement * to establish a climate of informed consent for delegates to Annual Conference so that they can make decisions with full awareness of the costs and impacts associated with proposed programs. The following document retains the basic elements of the original process statement while addressing the recent changes in the organizational life and structure of the Church of the Brethren.

1999 Revised Report

Whereas: Annual Conference is the highest human authority in Church of the Brethren polity, and
Whereas: there are various program and administrative arms of the Church of the Brethren, and
Whereas: program decisions made by Annual Conference should be systematically worked into the program and budget processes of the various agencies1 reportable to the Annual Conference (hereinafter referred to as “Agencies”), and
Whereas: careful stewardship of God-given resources is an historic tradition within the Church of the Brethren,
Therefore, Standing Committee (in consultation with the Agencies) asks the Annual Conference to adopt the following:
  1. A report of feasibility and cost estimates will be presented by Standing Committee to the delegate body with all new and unfinished Annual Conference business items involving Agency programming. The feasibility report will include suggestions on how the proposed program could be implemented and will advise of any collateral impacts, such as closure or substitution of other programming, which may need to occur in order to implement the proposed program.
    1. The task of preparing this report will be completed by the Program Feasibility Committee consisting of two persons who are members of Standing Committee at the time of their appointment and one person representing each of the Agencies who are staff or members of their respective Agency boards at the time of their appointment.
    2. This committee will consult with staff of the affected Agency during the preparation of their report.
    3. Standing Committee representatives will be appointed by the Annual Conference Officers and approved by Standing Committee. Agency representatives will be appointed by their respective agencies using procedures of their own choosing. Normal tenure of Program Feasibility Committee members will be four years set up on a staggered basis with Standing Committee and Agency representatives appointed on alternate years, to the extent possible. (Note: In the first year of implementation, members will be appointed to staggered terms, at least one each to one-year, two-year, three-year and four-year terms as determined by the Annual Conference Officers in consultation with the leadership of the Agencies.) Expiration of a term of service on Standing Committee will not require termination of service on the Program Feasibility Committee. Agencies may appoint replacement representatives to fill unexpired terms as they see fit.
    4. The Program Feasibility Committee will be chaired by the Standing Committee representative with the greater length of service Program Feasibility Committee.
  2. When an unfunded mandate involving Agency programming arises from the floor of Annual Conference without having been processed through normal channels, the action of Annual Conference will not be implemented until the Program Feasibility Committee has conducted a feasibility study and cost analysis of the proposed program.
    1. The Program Feasibility Committee will report the results of such a study to the next Annual Conference through Standing Committee. Annual Conference, upon receiving the feasibility report and cost estimate, will then determine whether or not to authorize implementation of the program as recommended by the previous Annual Conference.
    2. Exception: When an immediate response is imperative, the Program Feasibility Committee, upon completion of the feasibility study and cost estimates, will give a recommendation for action to the Conference Officers and the officers of the affected Agency. Upon approval by these two groups, the program will be implemented without additional action by Annual Conference. A report of actions taken under these circumstances will be made to the next Annual Conference by the Conference Officers.
  3. Direct expenses of Program Feasibility Committee participation will be reimbursed out of the Annual Conference budget.

This report was revised by the 1999 Standing Committee.


  1. Agencies reportable to Annual Conference as of 1998 are: The General Board, Brethren Benefit Trust, Bethany Seminary, Association of Brethren Caregivers and On Earth Peace Assembly.

Action of the 1999 Annual Conference: The revised report of the Study Committee was presented by Gayle Hunter Sheller, committee member. The delegate body adopted the report by a two-thirds majority vote.