The Church of the Brethren’s Mission and Ministry Board met in Omaha, Neb., on Sunday, July 10, ahead of the 2022 Annual Conference. The board’s Executive Committee began meetings the previous day, on July 9.
On the board agenda were a budget parameter for Core Ministries for 2023, a new staffing proposal, continued work on the strategic plan, the call of a new Executive Committee, welcoming international guests, an Open Roof recognition, a report on a FaithX trip to Rwanda that included board members, and recognizing board members who are completing their terms of service, among other business.
The meeting was led by chair Carl Fike assisted by chair-elect Colin Scott and general secretary David Steele. The majority of board members attended in person, with a few attending virtually via Zoom.
Budget parameter and financial reporting
The board approved a budget parameter for Core Ministries of $5,217,000 for 2023. The proposal is for a break-even budget.
In response to staff’s dedicated work during this high inflationary economy, the board approved a 3 percent cost-of-living adjustment for employee compensation that will take effect immediately. Another 3 percent increase will begin in January 2023 as part of the approved budget parameter. “Our staff are deserving of this. They have worked hard and it’s the right thing to do,” commented one board member in affirmation of the proposal from the general secretary and Executive Committee.
In financial reporting, the board learned that the total asset balance as of May represents a $4.7 million decrease from the beginning of the year. The investment balance has decreased $5 million, including market performance and draws. However, giving to the ministries of the denomination is up significantly over last year, representing the highest giving total since May of 2010.
“The Church of the Brethren is really blessed, especially with the generosity of our donors,” said treasurer Ed Woolf. “The market is down year to date, but we have policies and strategies in place to protect ourselves as much as possible. Our funds are diversified, we review our investments every year and adjust our investment allocations. On the whole, I feel that the Church of the Brethren is in a good place financially.”
The board approved a recommendation from the Executive Committee to open a position for an executive director overseeing Discipleship Ministries and the Office of Ministry. Included in the decision was financial implementation through use of additional unrestricted reserves from the Bequest Quasi-endowment for up to five years to support the position.
Explained general secretary David Steele: “I think we are short-staffed, especially on the program side of our ministries. At this time in the life of the church, we really need to have that additional programing staff support…. We have been down a staff person for years. This is the time to bring that back into place.”
He noted that this is technically not a new position, since the executive director position for Discipleship Ministries was vacated before his own tenure began. Steele thanked Discipleship Ministries staff Josh Brockway and Stan Dueck for serving as co-coordinators of the ministry area in the time since.
The board celebrated progress made on its strategic plan and adopted new initiatives recommended by the Strategic Planning Committee.
A Mid-ground Vision 3.0 was adopted with the goal that “by this time next year, the Mission and Ministry Board and staff will be able to identify no fewer than three completed projects in addition to three new works-in-progress that are aligned with one or more of the four Background Vision Strategies.”
A Foreground Vision 8 was adopted, titled “Putting Away Our Swords (Kingian Non-Violence Training),” to develop a plan for all board members and director-level staff to be trained in Kingian nonviolence.
In other business
International guests were welcomed including Ariel Rosario, church president, and Anastacia Bueno from the Dominican Republic; Santos Terrero, church president, and Maribel Roa and Welinthon Perez from Spain; and Etienne Nsanzimama, church president, and Theoneste Sentabire from Rwanda. Invited guests from Nigeria, Haiti, Uganda, and Venezuela were unable to come to Annual Conference this year because they could not get visas.
Middlebury (Ind.) Church of the Brethren was recognized as a new member congregation of the Open Roof Fellowship. Interim pastor Debbie Eisenbise received a plaque recognizing the congregation’s efforts for those with disabilities, presented by Jeanne Davies of the Anabaptist Disabilities Network.
The board called a new Executive Committee for 2022-2023, naming board members Lauren Seganos Cohen, Kathy Mack, and J. Roger Schrock to serve on the committee with chair Carl Fike and chair elect Colin Scott.
The three board members who are completing their terms of service as of this Annual Conference were recognized at the close of the meeting: Dava Hensley, Christina Singh, and Beckie Miller Zeek.
Shown below, a laying on of hands and prayer for the leaving members, from left: chair Carl Fike, Beckie Miller Zeek, general secretary David Steele, Dava Hensley, Christina Singh, and chair elect Colin Scott. Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
— Jan Fischer Bachman contributed to this report. Find a photo album of the Mission and Ministry Board meeting on the Annual Conference 2022 photo albums page at www.brethren.org/photos/annual-conference-2022.
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