A budget parameter for core ministries of the Church of the Brethren in 2020 and a large grant to continue the Nigeria Crisis Response program into next year were on the agenda of the Mission and Ministry Board in pre-Conference meetings.
The denominational board also thanked outgoing members who completed their terms including chair Connie Burk Davis. In addition, the board welcomed leaders of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria), president Joel S. Billi and staff liaison Markus Gamache; welcomed three congregations to the Open Roof Fellowship; celebrated a Rev. 7:9 award from the Intercultural Ministry; named a new executive committee and other subcommittees; and received reports, among other business.
Budget parameter for 2020
The board approved a parameter of $4,969,000 for the Church of the Brethren’s core ministries budget in 2020. Treasurer Brian Bultman and assistant treasurer Ed Woolf reported that the parameter reflects work to create a balanced budget for denominational ministries next year.
The parameter reflects a $220,000 expense reduction in core ministries. Finance staff said that while these reductions are not yet finalized, some expense reductions could include removal of campaign expenses, restructuring, and employees making personal changes in their individual health insurance coverage. More details will be presented as part of the 2020 budget packet in October. The parameter also includes the use of $121,000 in designated funds.
Additional financial projections for next year include the expectation that a decades-long slide in congregational giving to the denomination will continue, a one-percent increase in salary and benefits, a four-percent increase in medical insurance cost, and a planned decrease in the “draw” from the Brethren Service Center quasi-endowment. The latter was created from the sale of the upper campus of the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md. There was discussion among board members who want to further decrease the use of monies from the Brethren Service Center quasi-endowment in order to preserve it as a resource for the future.
Representatives were present at the board meeting to receive Open Roof Fellowship certificates presented by disabilities advocate Rebekah Flores, on behalf of Discipleship Ministries.
In other business
The board approved use of $325,000 from the Church of the Brethren’s Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF) to continue the Nigeria Crisis Response through 2019 and into March 2020. This joint effort of the Church of the Brethren and EYN aids those affected by the violence of the Boko Haram insurgency in northeastern Nigeria. Roy Winter, associate executive of Global Mission and Service, announced an intention to taper off funding for the effort over coming years as the violence lessens and the needs also lessen across the region. A budget of $275,000 is planned for 2020 and a budget of $135,000 for 2021.
Three congregations were welcomed to the Open Roof Fellowship. Representatives were present at the board meeting to receive certificates presented by disabilities advocate Rebekah Flores on behalf of Discipleship Ministries. Center Church of the Brethren in Ohio was represented by Northern Ohio District executive Kris Hawk. Polo (Ill.) Church of the Brethren was represented by pastor Leslie Lake. J.H. Moore Memorial Church of the Brethren, also known as Sebring (Fla.) Church of the Brethren, was represented by Dawn Ziegler.
The annual Rev. 7:9 recognition from the Intercultural Ministry was awarded to René Calderon. Originally from Ecuador, he was a member of the denominational staff in former decades and worked on intercultural ministries including support for sanctuary churches and translation of resources into Spanish, among other efforts. Discipleship Ministries co-coordinator Stan Dueck noted that Calderon’s work was carried out during a time when it was politically difficult. He also worked in Puerto Rico for a time, and served as a co-pastor with his wife Karen. The Rev. 7:9 award recipient is selected by the Intercultural Ministries Advisory Committee. The award was given to Calderon in absentia and the unique pottery cup that symbolizes the honor will be sent to him.
Named to the board’s executive committee for 2019-2020 were Lois Grove, Paul Liepelt, and Colin Scott, who will join the new chair, Patrick Starkey, and the new chair-elect, Carl Fike.
A new team was named to continue the Annual Conference assignment “Living Together as Christ Calls.” The board carried out a brainstorming session to help guide this new team as it follows up on the work of two previous teams assigned to this Conference mandate. Named to the new team were board members Thomas Dowdy, John Hoffman (whose appointment is yet to be affirmed by the 2019 Annual Conference), and Carol Yeazell.
A new Strategic Design Team was named, including four board members: Carl Fike, Lois Grove, Paul Schrock, and Colin Scott.
Four board members who complete their terms of service at this Annual Conference were recognized: chair Connie Burk Davis, Mark Bausman, Luci Landes, and Susan Liller.