Present: Jim Searls, Gail Burgess, Paul White, John Lawson, Chris Winkler, Lonnie Chafin, Ryan Russel, Laura Witkowski, Dominic Mejia, Curtis Brown, Nitza Dovenspike, Bishop Trimble, Cindy Gregorson, Sam Rodriguez, Matt Sipe, Alex Plum
Chairman Ryan Russell opened the meeting at Noon CST, reading from Donahue’s To Bless the Space Between Us.
Members Chris, Laura and Ryan provided an update on the Task Force on the Episcopacy. Two Bishops (Ough and Dyck) are retiring in December. Retired Bishop Hopkins will step in to Northern Illinois for a year while Bishop Bard will cover Minnesota and Bishop Haller will cover the Dakotas. The task force is considering the following: stay at 9 Bishops and elect 2 at NCJ or reduce to eight Bishops and elect just one is 2021. There is also an effort to not replace any retiring Bishops until 2024; the Episcopacy Fund could save up to $16 million. If we were to have only seven Bishops, we would need to determine how to deploy Bishops. Do we base it simply on numbers? No decisions have been made.
Bishop Trimble noted that similar discussions are ongoing throughout the denomination. Not electing Bishops in the West could be a problem; it would leave them with less than five, the minimum in the Discipline. However, the Episcopal Fund has already dipped into reserves and could run out of funds as early as 2021.
Drawing new lines for Conferences is one area to explore. Would we want to keep the same conferences but combine them into episcopal areas, or would we create all new conferences? It was noted that the process of merging conferences can take 18 months to 4 years. However, having more than one conference in an episcopal area can create duplication and waste.
Paul White reported on a Task Force that includes jurisdictional leaders including Bishops, the chairs of the episcopacy committee, each jurisdictional secretary and task group leaders that has met twice. They are concerned about finances, but also how to deploy Bishops for missional reasons. They have been looking at the Discipline for guidance. Virtual spring Jurisdictional meetings to accept retirements have been considered, but West will definitely not do that and NCJ would not need to since both of our retiring Bishops are taking vocational retirements. There is still a lot to be worked out. There will need to be changes to the Discipline at the General Conference; current circumstances were never foreseen when it was written.
The Task Group is only exploratory and only impacts US jurisdictions and Bishops. It is important to remember that ONLY episcopacy committees can recommend the number of Bishops and that must then be approved at the Jurisdictional meetings.
We want to help delegates be aware of the discussion since all will be impacted by the decision. Mission Council has been invited to be a part of the Task Force and we are being heard there, however we are not always a part of the decision-making. We can share concerns with Ryan, Laura or Chris as well as Paul.
The Episcopacy Committee in consultation with the COB could make suggestions for boundary changes. Interjurisdictional appointments are being explored. If certain proposals pass at General Conference, the US would become a regional—and we’re not sure what that would do to the current boundaries.
Right now it appears there is no pressing need for NCJ to hold a spring conference. Post General Conference NCJ could elect zero or one or two Bishops. Perhaps there would be a special called mid-quadrennial session held.
Following a brief break, the minutes of the May 25,2020 meeting were approved in a John Lawson/Nitza Dovenspike motion. Carried, 16/0.
Lonnie presented the 2017-2020 Financial Report. He noted that $60,000 had not been received in conference apportionments. We have $263,579 (est) to carry over into 2021. This includes money for the General Conference in Minnesota, funding of the Jurisdictional Conference whenever it can be held and the Journal, and a virtual spring meeting if needed. In addition, we would ask for the same apportionments in 2021 as 2020; these funds would cover the expenses of the NCJ Episcopacy Committee, Mission Council and finances with $105,000 for Grants. It is hoped there would be no expenses for appeals.
The budget was approved as presented in a motion made by Lonnie Chaffin and seconded by Chris Winkler. Motion carried, 16/0.
The following grants were approved in a Jim Searls/John Lawson motion. Carried, 14/0.
Campus Ministry $10,000
Hispanic/Latinx Center at GETS $10,000
Midwest Mission Distribution Center $15,000 4 year: $60,000
Native American Course of Study $20,000 4 year: $80,000
NCJ Volunteers in Mission $20,000 4 year: $80,000
Grace Pictures -West Ohio $2,500 4 year: $10,000
Ryan and Jim will compose a letter to go out to the recipients. It will need to include a note that we are uncertain regarding funding during the last three years of the four year grants.
Our next meeting will be on March 11 at 1 CST/2EST to work on the 2022-2024 budget.
Curtis led us in the closing prayer. Meeting adjourned at 2:40 pm.
Gail Burgess, Secretary
October 8, 2020
NCJ Mission Council
Executive Committee Meeting
During a brief executive committee meeting following a meeting of the full Mission Council was agreed that we will request a meeting with NACOS.
Ryan will assign a liaison to each of the six grant recipients.
Jim and Ryan will draft the letter to be sent to grant recipients.
The next Executive Committee meeting will be at 3 pm on October 21.
Gail Burgess Secretary