General Conference Board identifies changes in direction for BIC U.S. structure and budget, seeks approval from GC 2012 delegates

General Conference Board (GCB) is contacting those who served as delegates to General Conference 2012 (GC 2012) in Ontario, Calif., in order to outline changes in direction that the body recommends and to initiate a vote on the issues by electronic ballot.

While more information on the actual changes GCB seeks is forthcoming, the issues are related to two recommendations adopted by GC 2012 delegates: Recommendation #5 specified structural changes that would be effective through July 2014, and Recommendation #8 offered a ministry spending plan for BIC U.S. in 2014.

“The questions related to these recommendations were initially raised in the October meeting of Leadership Council (LC) and then brought to GCB members, who responded in strong support,” explains Alan Robinson, national director of the Brethren in Christ Church in the U.S. “While the wording of the recommendations specified that certain structural and financial pieces would be in place thru July 2014, both LC and GCB wanted to take a number of steps beginning on January 1, 2014, rather than delaying until the end of the biennium. Recognizing that these issues directly affect decisions passed at GC 2012, GCB did not want to move forward without the express approval of GC 2012 delegates.”

Overview of the process
Information on the issues will be provided to GC 2012 delegates, as well as to the larger BIC U.S. body, later this month. “To help explain the situation to delegates and others, we plan to offer a written document outlining the changes we’re seeking, as well as a video explanation,” says Robinson.

Then, to offer opportunities for the dialogue and conversation that take place during General Conference, delegates will be invited to submit any questions they might have. Robinson will then respond in a Q & A that will be made public.

Finally, GC 2012 delegates will have the opportunity to indicate whether or not they affirm the proposed changes in direction via electronic ballot. The process used to distribute the ballot and collect votes will be the same as the one used earlier this year, when GC 2012 delegates were called upon to confirm the election of Alan Robinson as national director of BIC U.S.

“We recognize that this isn’t ideal, but these issues are significant enough that we think even a less than ideal process is worth it,” Robinson notes. “We’re doing our best to fully inform the BIC Church family of these matters, while responding decisively to our sense that adjustments to decisions made at GC 2012 will benefit the Church.”

Summary of the recommendations
Specifically, the new directions that are being recommended by GCB and LC are the following:

  • Recommendation #5 (p. 42–44 of the GC 2012 Minutes) was passed by GC 2012 and reduced the positions of our six Regional Conference bishops from full-time to part-time through the biennium, which ends on July 31, 2014. Further, Recommendation # 8 (p. 47 of the Minutes) introduced a spending plan for 2014 that included assumptions based on staffing reductions.

    It is the recommendation of General Conference Board to return our six bishop positions to full-time beginning January 1, 2014.
  • Recommendation # 8 (p. 47 of the Minutes) introduced a spending plan for 2014 that did not include the level of payment that is desired to the BIC Pension Plan, which is currently underfunded.

    It is the recommendation of General Conference Board to include an annual payment of $250,000 to the Pension Plan in the spending plan. This practice would begin in 2014 and continue each year, until the underfunding is adequately addressed.
  • Recommendation #5 (p. 42–44 of the Minutes) specifies that 1/3 of congregational giving will be directed to BIC World Missions.

    It is the recommendation of General Conference Board to increase the use of financial resources that have been contributed in previous years and are currently invested by the General Church. As a result, it may be necessary to readjust the proportion of congregational giving that is directed to BIC World Missions.

Additional explanation about use of invested funds
Additionally, while GC 2012 did not make any specific decisions concerning the use of funds held as investments, GCB desires to begin appropriately and carefully using invested funds in an intentional way to support our ministries and help with the contribution to the BIC Pension Fund.

“This is not a variance from a GC 2012 decision,” Robinson emphasizes. “But GCB wanted to report this information, as it represents a change in financial operations of BIC U.S.”

He adds, “This use of invested funds will always be done in complete accord with any donor designation attached to the contributions.”

Updates will continue
More information on the changes GCB is recommending, as well as on the electronic ballot process will be made available to the BIC U.S. body on an ongoing basis through various avenues, including the "Churchwide news" section of the BIC U.S. website, Alan Robinson’s “Threads” blog, and the Momentum newsletter.