Approval of a budget for the denominational ministries of the Church of the Brethren and the naming of the next chair-elect topped actions taken by the Mission and Ministry Board at fall meetings. The board met at the General Offices in Elgin, Ill., on Oct. 13-16 led by chair Carl Fike, assisted by chair-elect Colin Scott and general secretary David Steele.
Kathy Mack of Northern Plains District was named the next chair-elect, to serve alongside the chair for two years beginning at the close of the 2023 Annual Conference. Her two-year term as chair will begin at the close of the 2025 Conference.
As always, the board worshiped together and spent time in prayer. In addition to business conducted in open sessions, the weekend’s schedule included two closed sessions of the board, an executive committee meeting, and orientation for new board members, as well as meals together and time for fellowship. Various committees of the board held online meetings in advance of this in-person gathering.
Please pray… For the work of the Church of the Brethren Mission and Ministry Board and its members.
The board approved a 2023 budget for all denominational ministries of $8,538,570 in income and $8,529,600 in expense, representing a net income of $8,970. This “grand total” budget includes budgets for the Church of the Brethren’s Core Ministries, Brethren Disaster Ministries, Conference Office, Global Food Initiative, and Material Resources. The board also approved budget allocations for the Emergency Disaster Fund and Global Food Initiative Fund.
The action included approval of a 2023 Core Ministries balanced budget of $5,336,000. The approved budget increased the Core Ministries parameter set by the board at its July meeting. The $119,000 increase was due, at least in part, to a 3 percent cost-of-living increase in employee pay, a decision the board made in July. Other factors in the increased budget parameter include the inflationary economy, higher travel costs, and an increase in program expenses returning to pre-pandemic operations. Additional considerations include a new executive director position to oversee Discipleship Ministries and the Office of Ministry, and an increased draw from the Bequest Quasi-Endowment to support this new position, among others..
The board also received a year-to-date financial report for 2022, as of September. Treasurer Ed Woolf emphasized giving received from congregations and individuals as a bright spot, during a time of steep market losses. In the case of congregations, giving to the denomination has remained relatively stable as compared to last year. In the case of individuals, giving has increased over 2021. “We’ve been blessed by our donors’ generosity, and we are thankful for the reserves we have to use during this time, have reserves to use,” Woolf told the board.
In other business
In closed session, a recommendation to create a standing committee of the board to oversee the denomination’s properties was approved. The Executive Committee will report back next March on the task of developing the new committee.
Revisions were approved to the Brethren Faith in Action Fund guidelines. The BFIA gives grants to Church of the Brethren congregations and camps. Foremost among the changes is a new sliding scale for matching funds from grant recipients. The revision takes effect Jan. 1, 2023.
Strategic Plan progress reports were received, focused on current initiatives related to healing racism and understanding discipleship. The board discussed a proposal for Kingian nonviolence training to be provided to board and staff, modeled on the work, writing, and teaching of Martin Luther King Jr.
The board’s Sustainability Committee announced the “decommissioning” of the self-allocation process for congregations, which has been used to communicate annual giving intentions. Staff of Mission Advancement will be working on alternative means for engaging congregations. The committee also announced a plan for Mission and Ministry Board members to become more active “ambassadors” for the denominational ministries.
A board development session on “Peacemaking in a Polarized Church” was led by former Annual Conference moderator Samuel Sarpiya.
The board received various reports, and engaged in a “round robin” style ministry sharing with staff of Discipleship Ministries, the Office of Ministry, Global Mission, and Brethren Disaster Ministries.
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