Board Meets in Nashville, Approves Changes
A plan for distributing $2 million to support theological education in Africa and a new formula for allocating church dollars to the 13 United Methodist theological schools were approved by board members of the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry during their fall meeting.
The Board, meeting in Nashville Oct. 7-9, also approved a $40.4 million budget for 2011, and heard of the retirement of General Secretary Jerome King Del Pino, effective Oct. 15, 2010. John Lesesne, treasurer and chief financial officer, was named interim general secretary.
Board President Bishop Marcus Matthews said the search for a new general secretary is already underway, with the goal of presenting a candidate at the March 2011 Board meeting.
Plan Approved for Theological Education in Africa
The 2008 General Conference passed a petition to support theological education in Africa. GBHEM, the General Board of Global Ministries, and United Methodist Communications agreed to provide $2 million and coordinate the Africa Educational Initiative.
In consultation with the 12 bishops of Africa, each episcopal area in Africa will receive $100,000 for financial assistance, scholarships, and logistical support for theological education. The plan also provides for additional funds for infrastructure and sustainability.
“Our implementation plan provides scholarship assistance for clergy coming to the U.S. for theological education and for ministerial training within the annual conferences (of Africa); for the creation of theological education centers for all of Africa and continuing education locally,” Stephanie Deckard said in reporting the plan to the Board on behalf of the Executive Committee.
She said the plan also calls for the development of resources in the three major languages of the continent; and for the development of professional and institutional associations for theological educators on the Africa continent.
“We believe all these to be critical steps in establishment of a community of elders for coming generations of the connection in Africa,” she said.
New Formula for Distributing MEF Dollars
Under a new formula for distributing funds from the Ministerial Education Fund, one of seven apportioned funds of the UMC, United Methodist schools of theology that educate more students for United Methodist ministry will get more money from the church.
“The overall goal of the change is to target funds to schools that are educating United Methodist students for ordination for ministry. That is what the General Conference was asking us to do,” said the Rev. David Bard, a Board member and member of the University Senate’s Commission on Theological Education.
During the Oct. 7-9 fall meeting, the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry’s elected directors approved two new board members, elected two new members to Africa University’s Board of Directors, and heard a report on the partnership with the General Council of the Methodist Institutions of Education (COGEIME).
The two new Board members are the Rev. Reggie Williams of Macon, Ga.; and Teresita Matos of Orlando, Fla.
The new members of Africa University’s Board of Directors are Kumbirayi Chiimba Katsande and Angella Current-Felder. Katsande is chairman of the Business Council of Zimbabwe and president of the Conference of Zimbabwe Industries. Current-Felder, who retired in June as executive director of GBHEM’s Office of Loans and Scholarships, was formerly GBHEM’s liaison to the AU Board.
In other action, the Board also:
- Received a report on the progress made under the partnership agreement between GBHEM and the General Council of the Methodist Institutions of Education (COGEIME), including leadership training seminars in Brazil, Peru, Costa Rica, Panama, and Bolivia, as well as the completion of an educational needs assessment in Peru. “The philosophy and model of sharing the mission, responsibilities, and costs among the parts involved in the different projects makes people more committed and dedicated to all aspects of the program,” said the Rev. Luis de Souza Cordosa, COGEIME executive secretary.
- Approved a motion to recommend continuance of the apportioned Africa University Fund to the 2012 General Conference, and request plenary time during the General Conference for a report from GBHEM and Africa University.
- Approved in principle a partnership agreement with Yonsei University in Seoul, South Korea, similar to the COGEIME agreement. Under the agreement, the university will serve as the regional office for the Methodist Global Education Fund for Leadership Development in Asia.
- Heard a report from Bishop James Swanson, chair of GBHEM’s Global Education and Ministry Committee, that the committee had drafted a continuing resolution for the 2012 General Conference to continue the MGEFLD. The resolution also includes $4 million as a World Service Special Gift for the 2013-2016 quadrennium. He said the resolution will be forwarded to GBHEM’s Legislative Committee. Swanson said the committee agreed to ask United Methodist Communications to consider malaria nets made in Africa for their anti-malaria campaign in order to create opportunities for economic development and jobs for Africans, as well as protection from malaria.
- Heard a report from the Church Systems Task Force, a joint project of GBHEM and the General Board of Pension and Health Benefits, with jurisdictional representation from the Council of Bishops. The agencies were directed by General Conference 2008 to examine appointment-making systems and recommend improvements to support clergy health. Barbara Boigegrain, general secretary of the Board of Pension and Health Benefits, said the group plans to present legislation to General Conference 2011 based on the findings. Among the proposed changes are a move to longer tenure appointments and providing establishing a denominational, standardized, voluntary transition package for deacons and elders who choose to withdraw from ministry. That package would include severance benefits and career counseling.
- Heard a report from the Study of Ministry Commission about changes that will be proposed to General Conference 2012. The full report is being drafted now and will be available in about three weeks, Bishop Grant Hagiya said.
- Approved a recommendation by the Evaluation and Review Committee that the interim general secretary and president of GBHEM present to the General Secretaries’ Table a software solution to enhance program and budget accountability, provide links between mission goals and outcomes, and strengthen the quadrennial budgeting processes for use by the Connectional Table. Haller said the model has been adopted by some of our higher education institutions and has demonstrated improvements in strategic planning processes by alignment of goals with both budget and program assessment, leading to improved quality of mission and outcomes.
Changes in the formula for distributing MEF dollars to the 13 United Methodist seminaries were proposed by the University Senate’s Commission on Theological Education in response to a change made in to the 2008 Book of Discipline by General Conference.
For most United Methodist seminaries, the Ministerial Education Fund disbursement accounts for 12 percent to 20 percent of their annual budget under the current formula. In 2009, $14.3 million was distributed to the 13 UM schools of theology. Twenty-five percent of the money collected for the fund stays with participating annual conferences to support continuing education for pastors and clergy recruitment and to provide financial aid for students in the annual conference.
The change affects the funds that are disbursed to the 13 United Methodist seminaries to assist candidates for ordained ministry through scholarships and faculty salaries. That money will be distributed as follows:
- Under the new formula, basic support to seminaries – a portion divided equally among the 13 – will drop from 35 percent to 25 percent.
- Forty percent of the funds will be divided based on the number of United Methodist students attending each seminary who are registered with GBHEM as admitted to candidacy for ordained ministry in the UMC.
- The biggest change is that 25 percent of the money will be divided based on the number of UM graduates from each of the 13 seminaries received into full membership in an annual conference, based on a three-year average. The old formula called for just 5 percent of the money to be divided based on that factor.
- Five percent of the money will be divided based on ethnic, racial, and gender inclusiveness of faculty, senior administrators, and United Methodist students.
- Five percent will be used for initiative grants to address issues identified by the Division of Ordained Ministry, in consultation with the Association of United Methodist Theological Schools, such as: spiritual formation, continuing education, programs in provisional membership with annual conferences, technology, and/or global partnership with Central Conferences.
Bishop Calls for “Fishing the Deep Waters”
In his sermon during the Board’s worship service Thursday, Bishop James Swanson cautioned against sticking with what is familiar and known.
“Fishing in familiar waters, you can do it without thinking,” Swanson said, referring to Jesus telling his disciples to venture out into the deep waters. “Jesus wanted the fishermen to know that fishing was not an end unto itself, but a means to an end. Jesus expects results.”
“There is abundance in deep waters. I believe God is calling us to launch out into deep waters,” Swanson said. “We can go back to our places and we can have some fun, or we can get busy trying to figure out how to help this church have the leaders we need for the next generation.”
*Brown is associate editor and writer, Office of Interpretation, General Board of Higher Education and Ministry.