Summary of votes taken at the 213th Annual Meeting, June 15-16, 2012:
After some discussion and a minor wording amendment, delegates unanimously approved a resolution to update the 1984 Open and Affirming Resolution to include Gender Identity and Gender Expression.
The Massachusetts Conference passed the first Open and Affirming resolution in the denomination in 1984, calling on churches to declare themselves open and affirming to gay, lesbian and bisexual persons. Today's vote added language calling on churches to welcome transgender people as well, welcoming people of all sexual orientations, gender identities and gender expressions."
Delegates also approved new clergy compensation guidelines for 2012.
Conference Bylaw Changes
Delegates voted to remove the provision from the Massachusetts Conference bylaws that establishes program commissions, and which gives Annual Meeting the authority to decide on the numbers, titles and sizes of these commissions.
The Board of Directors requested the change in order to test a transition from seven program commissions to three leadership councils. The Board has been working with members of the existing commissions on a proposal to make this change, and plan to bring a bylaw change to the 2013 Annual Meeting that would establish this new volunteer structure.
More information can be found in a Special Mailing sent to Delegates.
Delegates also voted to amend the Conference bylaws that govern nomination of individuals to the Board of Directors, removing a requirement that "members at large be nominated so that each Association is represented by at least one director and no Area has fewer than three directors."
The Board of Directors proposed the change due to the difficulty of always find representatives from each Association. The new language still requires members at large to be nominated so that no area shall have fewer than three directors, but says that they shall be nominated to represent each Association "to the extent possible."
Affirmation of UCC Constitutional Change
Delegates approved a vote affirming changes to the constitution of the United Church of Christ which would alter its governance structure. Per UCC bylaws, 26 Conference must ratify the changes prior to the 29th General Synod in 2013 in order for them to take effect.
Under the changes, a single governing board, the United Church of Christ Board, with 52 members accountable to General Synod will replace five boards with over 300 members. More information is available at www.ucc.org/ratify.
Delegates voted to retain 47% of Our Church's Wider Mission Basic Support contributions for Conference ministries, passing the other 53% on to the national setting of the United Church of Christ, in 2013. That is the same as the 2012 retention rate.
Delegates also voted to increase Fellowship Dues from $17.20 per member to $17.60 per member for 2013. This is an increase of 2.3% per member over 2012. There was no increase in 2012.
Finally, delegates adopted a 2013 Conference budget with income of $2,182,800, expenses of $2,233,300 and a transfer from operating reserves of $50,500. More information can be found in the Treasurer's Report on pages 6 and 7 of the Advance Materials.