The Church of the Brethren General Board has made several decisions regarding its programs and the use of properties at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill., and the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md. The board began a move to consolidate leadership of the staff at the General Offices.
Also in the decision today, the board affirmed the General Offices in Elgin as its headquarters and directed staff to review, evaluate, and develop an action plan regarding facilities use and improvements in Elgin.
The board decided to “explore options for ministries related to properties associated with the Brethren Service Center.”
The decisions came following a report from the Stewardship of Property Committee, which was presented yesterday to the board. The committee was created two years ago by the board and has studied use of the Brethren Service Center and the General Offices. Today the board acted on five recommendations from its executive committee, after receiving the report.
The report was received with gratitude by the board and the board acted affirmatively on almost all of the committee’s recommendations. The board’s decision departed at two points from the original recommendations.
In its report, the Stewardship of Property Committee had recommended that the Brethren Service Center be leased or sold, and that the Emergency Response program be moved to the General Offices. In its decision, the board voted to appoint a committee by the July 2006 General Board meeting to carry out the exploration of options for the Brethren Service Center. The board also voted against a recommendation that Emergency Response be moved.
The board did not address an additional recommendation from the Stewardship of Property Committee that the General Offices be affirmed as the denominational headquarters for the Church of the Brethren.
Discussion addressed a wide range of concerns. The meeting included the opportunity for employees and volunteers from both locations to speak as well as the executives of other Annual Conference agencies, local Church of the Brethren members, district leaders, and visitors.
One of the concerns raised by members of the Stewardship of Property Committee was that the board’s ministries are being driven by the property, instead of the ministries guiding use of property. Others raised concerns for employees and their well-being, uncertainty about jobs, the history and importance of the New Windsor property to the Church of the Brethren, the value of Brethren Service Center ministries, financial considerations, and how staff work together.
General Board programs located at the Brethren Service Center are Emergency Response, Service Ministries, and the New Windsor Conference Center, as well as staff for finance, information services, and buildings and grounds. In addition, the center hosts offices of On Earth Peace, warehouses and a retail store of A Greater Gift/SERRV, offices of Interchurch Medical Assistance Inc. (I.M.A.), and the Church of the Brethren’s Mid-Atlantic District Office.
General Board ministry areas headquartered in Elgin include Brethren Press, Centralized Resources, Congregational Life Ministries, Global Mission Partnerships, and the Ministry Office. Offices of Brethren Benefit Trust, the Association of Brethren Caregivers, and the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference, are also located at the General Offices.