On Earth Peace call for new polity for agencies is acted on by the Conference

Church of the Brethren Newsline
June 30, 2017

by Frances Townsend

The delegate body votes, during the Friday business session of the 2017 Conference. Photo by Regina Holmes.

The 2016 Annual Conference has processed a recommendation from On Earth Peace titled “Polity for Agencies,” by adopting a Standing Committee recommendation to return the query with appreciation and respect, but to accept the concern of the recommendation about a lack of polity with regard to agencies of the Conference.

Last year, Annual Conference referred to the Review and Evaluation Committee two queries concerning On Earth Peace, with the question whether On Earth Peace should remain under the Annual Conference umbrella.

On Earth Peace created the recommendation to bring to the notice of the church the lack of polity clarifying the relationship of agencies to the Conference, and lack of a framework to resolve conflicts with agencies should they arise.

The Standing Committee recommendation tasks the Leadership Team of the denomination (the Annual Conference officers, the general secretary, and a representative from the Council of District Executives) with updating current polity. The update will include the definition of an Annual Conference agency, the process to become a Conference agency, the process for dealing with conflicts with agencies, and the process for reviewing agency status if conflicts cannot be resolved.

Not stated in this recommendation is the assumption that the Leadership Team’s polity proposal will come to a future Annual Conference for approval, as all polity statements do. The moderator assured the delegates that the Leadership Team’s polity proposal will be brought back to Annual Conference for its consideration.

Much discussion time was used for questions of clarification. One person asked a question that may have been on the minds of many delegates, “What is the definition of ‘polity,’ and the difference between polity and policy?” Conference secretary James Beckwith described polity as the governing structure of the church, and policy as the interpretation or the philosophy. Policy is how the polity is carried out, he said.

Another concern was that the moderator, as a member of the Leadership Team, would help draft a document that would later come as an item of business to the Conference, creating a potential conflict of interest. An amendment to give the work to a study committee instead of the Leadership Team failed. Also failing was an amendment to separate the two parts of the recommendation, to vote on the motion to return the query separately from the motion to task the Leadership Team with updating polity.

For more onsite coverage of Annual Conference go to www.brethren.org/ac/2017/coverage .

The news coverage of Annual Conference 2017 is made possible through the work of the volunteer news team: Frank Ramirez, Conference Journal editor; photographers Glenn Riegel, Regina Holmes, Keith Hollenberg, Donna Parcell, Laura Brown, Allie Dulabaum; writers Frances Townsend, Karen Garrett, Gene Hollenberg; with web staff Jan Fischer Bachman and Russ Otto, and Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services. Wendy McFadden, publisher. Contact cobnews@brethren.org.

Go to www.brethren.org/Newsline to subscribe to the Church of the Brethren Newsline free e-mail news service and receive church news every week.

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