This year’s recommendation by the Mission and Ministry Board responding to a query about equitable representation on the board, was adopted. The content of the recommendation was unusually simple–to maintain the current structure of the Mission and Ministry Board with no changes to how members are chosen.
At the close of business on Saturday afternoon, July 5, three business items having to do with agency bylaws and articles of organization as well as financial reporting had not yet been dealt with. The three items were deferred for inclusion on the 2015 Conference agenda: Amendments to the Bylaws of the Church of the Brethren Inc., Amendments to Brethren Benefit Trust Articles of Organization, and Interpretation of Polity Regarding Agency Financial Reports, which was an item added to the Conference agenda by Standing Committee.
Current structure of Mission and Ministry Board is maintained
The original query was formulated in 2011, expressing a concern that parts of the country with low populations of Brethren were over-represented on the board, and that higher population areas were under-represented. The 2012 Conference adopted a recommendation to send the issue to the Mission and Ministry Board to formulate a change.
In 2013, Annual Conference was presented with a new plan of board member selection, but after reflection and discussion the delegate body decided not to adopt it. Instead, the query was returned to the Mission and Ministry Board.
Table talk among the delegates last year garnered many written suggestions and opinions. The Mission and Ministry Board used that important delegate feedback, as well as the speeches from the microphones, as they developed the recommendation to make no changes to the selection process for board members.
However, during discussion on the Conference floor this year the same concerns for proportional representation which prompted the original query continued to be raised. Mission and Ministry Board chair Becky Ball-Miller showed charts illustrating how the current composition of the board compares to percentages of population in the different areas of the denomination, and also percentages of giving and of giving per capita.
She reiterated that every board member, no matter where they are from or how they are elected, represents the entire denomination, not just their own geographical area or district.
Ball-Miller also pointed out that the delegate body of Annual Conference as well as Standing Committee are more directly representational of population and it is those bodies that make policy, while the Mission and Ministry Board’s task is to implement Annual Conference decisions and see that the work of the denomination is carried out.
She reported to the Conference that the Mission and Ministry Board has done its best to answer the concerns of the query and sincerely believes the current structure works.
— Frances Townsend provided this report.