As reported by Dawn Hammond, Associate Conference Minister and Staff to the Board
On Dec. 3, members of the MACCC Board of Directors opened their time together with worship centered on Psalm 103 and Amos 5:18-24. The Rev. Ian Holland led the group in wrestling with the juxtaposition of the language of the psalm (healing, redemption, praise) and Amos (warning, judgment, challenge).
Thus centered in scripture, prayer and song, the group moved into consideration of the way the Conference’s volunteer leadership is organized. Since 1988, each of seven program commissions has been responsible for ministry in a particular area. Members are elected for 3-year terms. As with many local church committees, these groups have become difficult to populate in recent years, and with reductions in Conference personnel, they are more difficult to staff. Also, there are few opportunities for leaders in different areas to communicate or collaborate. Since any division of ministry into categories such as “leadership”, “mission & justice”, and “ecumenism” is somewhat artificial, more cross-fertilization could be useful.
Out of a series of recent conversations among Board members, staff, and members of the Leadership, Educational Ministries and Communications commissions, a picture of a possible new structure is emerging. All current commission members have been invited to a meeting on January 19th to consider and contribute to this developing idea. In brief, each of three Leadership Councils would support multiple task groups – some short-term and some longer-term - in the areas of Congregational Excellence, Pastoral Excellence, and Mission and Justice Excellence. (Note that it’s helpful to refer back to 1 Corinthians 12:31 to understand “excellence” in this context.) The hope would be to provide opportunities for people to engage with projects in response to their passion and calling.
With every conversation, potential details continue to evolve, and further evolution will take place on the 19th. Minister and President Jim Antal expressed a hope that a proposed new way of working together might be ready for consideration by the Annual Meeting in June.
The Rev. John Zehring reported that the Sustaining Pastoral Excellence Capital Campaign is receiving gifts and starting to hold donor events organized by churches. He reported that the $3.5 million campaign has received 34% of its goal for individuals, 7% of the goal for churches, and 4% of the goal for wraparound church campaigns. The economic climate is challenging. Discussion ensued about whether there is a sufficient volunteer structure. The Donor Team, now meeting with the Capital Campaign Executive Committee, has three active members. The Ambassador program for solicitation of churches lacks an effective design for regular reporting and supervision of Ambassador assignments. Is it possible that the campaign is too staff driven (albeit by exceptionally talented and dedicated staff) and needs increased volunteer leadership? Mr. Richard Harter, Board Chair, encouraged Mr. Zehring to work with the Executive Committee to propose whatever changes they believe will be effective.
Board actions included the creation of a Justice and Witness Fund to hold gifts restricted for this area of ministry, and a decision to provide 3% salary and wage increases to Conference staff for 2012 in response to the increase in the CPI. They also voted to propose to the Annual Meeting a bylaw revision which would slightly ease the requirement that there be at least one Board member from each Association of the Conference. The stipulation that there be at least three Board members from each Area would remain in place. This proposal is a response to the shrinking pool of volunteers in our smaller Associations – a challenge faced by Association Nominating Committees as well as the Conference’s Volunteer Development Committee.
Stepping back for a ‘big-picture’ perspective on its own work, the group discussed Governance as Leadership: Reframing the Work of Nonprofit Boards, by Chait, Ryan & Taylor. Guided by the Rev. Steve Alspach, members considered their work with reference to three modes of governance described in the book: fiduciary, strategic and generative. Chait et al assert that all three modes are essential, but that most boards are more skilled at the first two than the third. The conversation ended with an exercise in which members proposed ways in which the group might build its capacity for generative governance. Several participants noted that the book has relevance to other Boards on which they serve, including in their local congregations – so, some of you reading this might want to check it out!
As always, your Board members may be contacted via email links found here: http://www.macucc.org/pages/detail/2315 .
Dawn is the Executive Minister for Policy and Finance for the Southern New England Conference. She is primarily responsible for internal operational matters (such as accounting, office systems, retreat centers, personnel policies). She staffs the ...