Rejoicing over a significant reduction in the Annual Conference Fund deficit was a highlight of the January meeting of the Church of the Brethren Leadership Team. The meeting involved general secretary Stan Noffsinger and the three Annual Conference officers: moderator Robert Alley, moderator-elect Tim Harvey, and secretary Fred Swartz. It was held Jan. 26-27 in conjunction with meetings of the Inter-Agency Forum and the Council of District Executives. All of the groups met in Cocoa Beach, Fla.
A gift from Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Company, plus good attendance at the 2010 Annual Conference, has considerably lowered the Annual Conference deficit that stood at $251,360 at the end of Dec. 2009. Additionally, an all-out effort to reduce Conference expenses has cut the deficit nearly 75 percent, according to a report given the Leadership Team by the general secretary. In order to keep the deficit-cutting trend, Noffsinger warned, there will need to be registrations of 3,500 or more at the next two Annual Conferences.
Another factor related to the future of Annual Conference is the anticipated report of a Leadership Team-appointed committee that is studying factors that can "revitalize" the Conference. Chairing that committee is former moderator Shawn Flory Replogle. Other members are Kevin Kessler, Becky Ball-Miller, Rhonda Pittman Gingrich, Wally Landes, and Chris Douglas. The committee has begun its study and hopes to report to the Leadership Team sometime within the year.
The Leadership Team also worked on an assignment given to it by the 2010 Annual Conference to create a process by which Standing Committee can hear appeals of decisions made by the Annual Conference Program and Arrangements Committee. In addition to creating that process, the Leadership Team was asked to review the process established by Standing Committee in 2000 for responding to appeals of district actions. The Leadership Team has a report on both assignments for the 2011 Standing Committee.
In other actions, the Leadership Team:
- Updated the position descriptions for Annual Conference officers.
- Celebrated the good reception the newly-completed "Moderator’s Manual" has received.
- Noted the progress of the denominational Vision Committee and the Congregational Ethics Committee.
- Acted to continue reports at Annual Conference of Church of the Brethren peacemaking activity, changing for 2011 the former "Living Peace Church Reports" to "Peacemaking and the Church of the Brethren." The business session segment this year will consist of three reports of ecumenical involvement by the denomination, and a report of a congregational peacemaking activity.
- Worded a recommendation to Standing Committee and the Mission and Ministry Board for establishing a committee to evaluate the involvement of the Church of the Brethren in ecumenical activity and how responsibility for that role is structured. The recommendation also includes a concern expressed by the Committee on Interchurch Relations as to what that committee’s purpose and role should be.
-- Fred W. Swartz is secretary of the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference.