Response on Equitable Board Representation Will Go to Annual Conference

A response to the query about equitable representation on the Mission Ministry Board, which came to Annual Conference from Southern Pennsylvania District and was referred to the board for action, will be on the business docket at the 2013 Conference.

The board recommended the following changes to the bylaws of the Church of the Brethren Inc., revising a section governing the number and geographic balance of the members of the board:

increasing from 10 to 11 the number of “directors” or board members to be elected by Annual Conference,

decreasing from 5 to 4 the number of at-large board members elected by the board and affirmed by the Conference,

changing from 2 to 3 the number of members elected by Conference who come from each of the three most populous areas of the denomination (Area 1, Area 2, and Area 3),

decreasing from 2 to 1 the number of members elected by Conference who come from each of the two least populous areas (Area 4 and Area 5), and

charging the nominating committee of Standing Committee with the task of ensuring a fair and equitable rotation of board members from among the districts in each area.

Board leaders also voiced an intention to identify members as “liaisons” to districts, and to schedule opportunities during Annual Conference for board members to make closer connections with districts.

The recommendation follows a number of conversations in the board and its executive committee, and a conference call of board leaders with leaders of Southern Pennsylvania District. The board heard a number of concerns about how its members are named, the rotation of members from the 23 church districts across the US, and a call for board members to more closely relate to districts. Another specific question posed by the district was about the procedure in the event a person moves from one area to another during a term on the board, and the resulting loss of district connection.

“I get completely the concern,” said board chair Ben Barlow. He added, however, that the board also has to ensure continuity and develop experience among its members. He gave the fictional example of a board member who heads up a key committee, and then loses a job and has to move as a result–in which case the board would not want to have to replace that member and lose that person’s level of experience and expertise from the board.

Discussion of the recommendation re-emphasized the understanding that board members are not considered to be representatives of the areas or districts from which they come, but represent the entire denomination.

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