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Annual meeting delegates vote to approve budget, resolutions; discuss and approve national UCC governance proposal

Nearly 180 delegates from 49 of the Conference’s churches voted to approve new leaders, the budget and resolutions.

Chip Laird
Chip Laird of Community Congregational UCC in Pullman asks about funds for campus ministries.

PNC treasurer Martha Baldwin announced in a hearing on the budget that the conference will vote at Annual Meeting 2013 on changing to a fiscal year starting May 1, 2014 through April 30, 2015.  There will be an initial short year running January 1 through April 30, 2014.  The 12-month budget cycles will then run May 1 to April 30.

She reported that OCWM was down $10,000 in 2011 and expenses were down $55,000 from the prior year.  For 2013, 30 percent of the budget income will be sent to the national UCC.  Staff payroll is up about three percent.

She said committees had $26,000 budgeted for travel to meetings and the hope is that using will save travel costs.

A budget line was added for Partners in Education consultants.  Contributions to Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley and the School of Theology and Ministry in Seattle made equal.

annual meeting
Becky Colwell, Jim Spraker and Eric Johnson converse at the 2012 Annual Meeting in Richland.

Noting that the budget for Common Ministry in Higher Education was eliminated as the vehicle for PNC involvement in campus ministries, Chip Laird, a pastor at Community Congregational in Pullman who serves on the governing Council of the Common Ministry at Washington State University said there campus ministry is in the process of re-envisioning their ministry model.  It now is moving to an interfaith model that serves everyone in the university community who is seeking meaning, not just those who identify as UCC or any other denomination, he said.

“Although we will not be doing work as we used to, we need funding for campus ministries that are serving the real needs of students,” Laird said, noting that if the Pullman church knows the monetary support of the Conference is dropped, “members will continue to work to find support for these important ministries.”

Catherine Foote of University Congregational UCC in Seattle said CMHE has dissolved, and facilities near the University of Washington have been sold.  The campus ministry is cooperating with the Wesley Foundation.

Baldwin assured that money for campus ministry is in a fund and will be remembered.

She added that the conference seeks to do more aspects of its ministry through professional consultants offering specific services.

She said the conference has been tapping into money from the sale of the conference home for operating expenses and the camps.  A $170,000 deficit for the welcome center at N-Sid-Sen will be cleared, so Mark Boyd begins as managing director with no past deficits.

“Both camps and the operating budget had deficits back to the 1990s, but they are paper deficits and will be removed,” Baldwin explained.  “N-Sid-Sen operates with a surplus that offsets the paper deficits.  Both camps have also sold some trees to add to their income.”

Kathie Forman
Kathie Forman has served on the General Ministries board.

In another hearing, PNC representatives on national UCC boards explained the resolution on unified governance for the national denomination. Those representatives are Bing Tso, a Bethany UCC Seattle member who represents the PNC on the national Wider Church Ministries board; Carol Stanley of Eastgate UCC in Bellevue on Local Church Ministries board; Katie Forman of University Congregational in Seattle on the Office of General Ministries board, and Chris Hansen of Peshastin on the Executive Council.

Much of the opposition over the years, said Forman, has related to protecting endowments for Local Church Ministries and Wider Church Ministries.  The goal is to streamline governance to strengthen people coming together around mission and programs.

Greg Turner, who teaches UCC polity at the School of Theology and Ministry in Seattle, said the question of unified governance requires recognizing what will be gained and what will be given up.

Bing Tso
Bing Tso has served on Wider Church Ministries.

“I favor the need to administer more efficiently and faithfully in the national setting.  I don’t know if more efficiency will save money,” he said.  “What will the structure do to help us move to be more multicultural?  Will incorporating quotas do that in the UCC, which is still basically white, middle class in local churches.

Stanley said there is a quota system on all boards.

Concern is about loss of representation geographically, meaning the PNC may not be represented, because it’s a small conference.

Forman said the proposal moves from four covenanted ministries that are separate corporations with separate bylaws with boards of 50 to 60 people .

Other business included the following:

A resolution calling for action to challenge the United States Supreme Court’s decision to give corporations rights of personhood passed nearly unanimously.  The resolution asserts that money is not speech.

Tom Colwell of Plymouth said the Supreme Court decision is “a direct attack on the sanctity of one-person-one vote.”

• A resolution calling for the conference and member churches to find ways to divest  their funds from large banks, submitted by the conference Justice and Witness Ministries Committee, arose from a national UCC General Synod resolution to encourage conversations in different settings.  It passed nearly unanimously. 

The PNC has moved accounts to Banner Bank, but credit card still links to Bank of America. Washington state has many credit unions and community banks.

Mark Travis, pastor of Mercer Island said there is need to examine all banks. 

Jeannette Solimine of Affirmational UCC-Plymouth Congregational Church in Colfax said each church needs to evaluate local banking options.

Liberation MInistries in Seattle
Del Korte, Donna Byrd, Tracy Bowens and Darrell Goodwin of Liberation Ministries join the PNC.

The Annual Meeting also passed a proposal by the Global Ministries Committee to have 16 members, with eight from the United Church of Christ and eight from the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in recognition of the way the national church does Global Ministries as a partnership of the two denominations.  It passed near unanimously.

• A resolution proposed on the floor by Greg Turner to support women religious in light of the recent Vatican effort to challenge ministries of American Catholic women religious was tabled for study.  The aim is to consult with women religious partners of many who work ecumenically and with the School of Theology and Ministry.

• In other action, the Annual Meeting welcomed Liberation Ministries as a congregation in the Conference.  The founder and pastor of this multi-cultural, charismatic, inclusive church is Darrell Goodwin, who is ordained in the Church of God in Christ and is associate dean of students at Seattle University.

Copyright Pacific Northwest Conference News © September 2012





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