The Annual Conference Council elected Ron Beachley, immediate past moderator of Annual Conference, to chair the council for the 2006-07 year. Upon his election, Beachley immediately presided over the council’s meeting Aug. 16-17 at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill., according to a report from Conference secretary Fred Swartz.
A major portion of the meeting time was spent reviewing business actions of the 2006 Annual Conference held in Des Moines, Iowa, in July, and identifying agencies or people for follow up of the decisions. The council also heard a report from the Conference secretary on a communication requesting the five Annual Conference agencies to name representatives to the Program Feasibility Study Committee that will study recommendations in the Doing Church Business Study Committee’s report to the 2006 Conference.
In other business, the council studied a report from the Annual Conference marketing ministry team advising the group to look at several systemic issues that affect Conference attendance. Included were diminishing and aging membership of the denomination; an increase in bi-vocational congregational leadership; growing numbers of pastors who have little interest in keeping their congregations connected with the denomination; and threatening divisions in the denomination.
In a related matter, the council addressed its Conference-assigned responsibility to collaborate in envisioning for the denomination with the Standing Committee of district delegates. Council members identified several “broad strokes of vision” for the church including developing missions and mission leaders, including overseas mission, congregational renewal, and new church development; calling vital and loyal Brethren leadership; calling and growing disciples; and nurturing vital worship. These ideas have been conveyed to the envisioning subcommittee of Standing Committee, with the intention that both the subcommittee and the council will work at developing strategies, Swartz reported.
The council also expressed appreciation to executive director Lerry Fogle and the Annual Conference Office assistants for the achievement of many of the goals in the Conference’s strategic plan. The group also reviewed the mission, vision, and core values of the Conference and reaffirmed their validity.
Funding streams for Annual Conference demanded considerable discussion time for the council, as registrations for the 2006 Conference fell considerably below the projected mark. There were more than 100 fewer delegates in 2006 than were hoped for, Swartz reported. One of the principal means of support for Annual Conference comes from delegate registration fees. Appreciation was expressed for the Conference offerings, which amounted to $47,440 this year.
The council received a report that the move of the Annual Conference Office to the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., would be completed on schedule by Aug. 28, and that the costs of the move met the estimated amount. Training for new Conference assistant Dana Weaver has been completed as well.
The council set Nov. 28-29 as the dates for its next meeting, to be held at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor.