Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Mission and Ministry Board sets budget parameter for 2010.

The Mission and Ministry Board of the Church of the Brethren addressed a full agenda at a pre-Conference meeting June 26, led by chair Eddie Edmonds. The group set a budget parameter for Core Ministries for 2010, received a report on a survey studying the feasibility of a capital campaign, established a committee to write a resolution on the issue of torture, received a report on the situation of Haitians in the Dominican Republic, named a new chair and chair-elect and a new executive committee, among other business.

The board also celebrated a Brethren delegation that went to Angola recently (story to come).

Budget Parameter for Core Ministries in 2010

The board adopted a balanced budget with a parameter of $4,962,000 for the church's Core Ministries in 2010, with the understanding that if staff cannot meet the parameter a deficit budget may be presented to the board at its October meeting. The decision requires another reduction of $381,000 in expenses, over the present year's budget. The board will make a final decision on the 2010 budget in October.

Treasurer Judy Keyser reported on financial challenges facing the denominational ministries, as well as some points of improvement. Giving from congregations currently is ahead of budget for 2009 (which was revised downward at the March meeting of the board), investment income has improved since the first of the year, and "we are financially viable at this point," Keyser said.

However, "we are still living in a volatile economy," she warned, sharing concerns about maintaining adequate net assets to support operations, the anticipation of large deficits this year in the budgets of several self-funded ministries including Annual Conference and the New Windsor Conference Center, and how to sustain the church's Core Ministries when that fund has had a loss of over $1 million in two years.

Discussion of the budget centered on a phrase in Keyser's report, indicating that the recommendation for 2010 would mean "the loss of some major ministries." General secretary Stan Noffsinger explained that a plan is not yet in place for the required reduction in expenses for next year, but he anticipates a number of measures including reviewing staff positions that come open before filling them, reviewing the cost of the church's properties and programs, and no increase in employee salaries or benefits in 2010. "We will provide as much information before the October meeting as we have available," he assured the board.

Report on Survey for Capital Campaign

Stewardship and Donor Development director Ken Neher presented the results of a survey by fundraising consulting firm RSI, on the feasibility of a new capital campaign to support denominational ministries. The survey found both "unprecedented" high levels of support for denominational ministry, he reported, as well as lack of confidence from potential donors in the capacity of the church to raise a large amount of money, and skepticism from some over the purpose of the campaign.

RSI recommended a number of next steps, Neher said, including to postpone implementation of the proposed campaign, engage in board development, revise the "case statement" for support to give more details, and when ready to adopt a multifaceted campaign and to retain fundraising counsel to start the campaign.

The board adopted an Executive Committee recommendation to receive the report and request staff to give clarification of the need and rationale for the campaign.

Study Committee on Torture

The board formed a committee to write a resolution on the issue of torture, working with the general secretary. Noffsinger reported encouragement from ecumenical colleagues to address the issue, saying that the Church of the Brethren currently does not have a statement on torture. The four-person committee will include board members Andy Hamilton, John Katonah, and Tammy Kiser, and a staff member to be named by the general secretary.

New Executive Committee Is Named

The board selected a new Executive Committee: Dale Minnich, who will serve as chair through 2011; Ben Barlow, who will serve as chair-elect through 2011, and then as chair through 2013; and at-large members Vernne Greiner and Andy Hamilton. The Executive Committee also includes ex officio members general secretary Stan Noffsinger and 2010 Annual Conference moderator Shawn Flory Replogle.

Other Business

The board named Jonathan Shively, executive director of Congregational Life Ministries, to the denomination's new Vision Committee.

Special recognition was given to outgoing members of the board, including outgoing chair Eddie Edmonds and Ken Wenger, who is completing service on the Executive Committee with this meeting. Also recognized was Kathy Reid, who has resigned as associate general secretary and executive director of Caring Ministries. A special citation was shared for the staff members whose positions were ended following the economic downturn and the reductions in the Church of the Brethren's 2009 budget.

Board member Ben Barlow reported on a youth/young adult meeting of EYN in Nigeria, which he attended with a small delegation of young adults from the Church of the Brethren in the US. It was the 17th such conference for EYN, he reported, and included 2,200 youth/young adults. The theme was, "Launch Out into the Deep," from a passage in Luke. He experienced "a powerful spirit" in EYN, he said, also listing a number of challenges facing the Nigerian Brethren including a difference between urban and rural churches, differences between the older and younger generations in leadership, and the question of the ordination of women--at a time when some women already are engaged in church ministry.

The Executive Committee announced that it is starting a process for a performance review for general secretary Stan Noffsinger, whose present contract ends in June 2011. The performance review will culminate at the October meeting of the board.

Source: 7/1/2009 Newsline

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