The Annual Conference Council set a goal of 4,000 registrants for the 2007 Annual Conference in Cleveland, at a meeting held Nov. 28-29 in New Windsor, Md. All members of the council were present for the meeting including chair and past Annual Conference moderator Ronald Beachley, current Annual Conference moderator Belita Mitchell, moderator-elect Jim Beckwith, Shenandoah District associate executive minister Joan Daggett, former Conference moderator Jim Myer, Conference executive director Lerry Fogle, and Conference secretary Fred Swartz.
A registration of 4,000 is the number of registrations the council estimates it will take to get the Annual Conference fund back in the black and meet the 2007 budget, said Swartz in his report from the meeting. Registrations were much less than expected at the 2006 Annual Conference, Swartz reported, especially in the number of congregational delegates attending. This resulted in a slight deficit in meeting the 2006 expenses of the Conference. Anticipated costs in Cleveland next year call for an even bigger budget for 2007.
In its discussion, the council noted that Cleveland is an attractive venue for families. Several members of the council were impressed with the city’s conference facilities during a tour earlier in November. The business agenda for 2007 also will have several interesting issues for the delegates’ consideration, increasing the motivation for congregations to send representatives, Swartz reported.
Related to the hope to increase attendance, the council approved a proposal from the Program and Arrangements Committee to change the rotation of Annual Conference sites. The new plan, which will need approval from the Conference, would have the Conference meeting in the East and Midwest four times in a 12-year cycle instead of the present rotation that has sites in those two regions only three times each cycle. The other years of the cycle would hold the Conference one time each in the Northwest, the Plains, the Southeast, and the Southwest. The new rotation would allow Annual Conference to be held most often in areas with the highest concentration of Church of the Brethren members.
In other business, the council began to look at other budget and marketing issues related to Annual Conference, planning to continue that discussion at the group’s next meeting in March. The council holds fiscal responsibility for Annual Conference, as assigned by the 2001 Conference upon recommendation of the Review and Evaluation Committee.
The council also approved a revised disaster recovery plan for the Conference office should a natural disaster or other emergency interrupt operations, reaffirmed policies on requirements to be met by queries (see policies at www.brethren.org/ac), reviewed the budget and plans of the 300th Anniversary Committee, and received reports including reflections from moderator Mitchell, a report that the move of the Annual Conference office to New Windsor was accomplished on budget, and a report from the Program and Arrangements Committee listing ideas from its task committee on marketing. The group postponed final work on a revision to a paper on dealing with strongly controversial issues until Annual Conference disposes of its current business item on Doing Church Business.