AC 2020: Actions taken by Annual Conference

October 19, 2020

The 2020 New England Annual Conference addressed eight resolutions that were on the agenda (in addition to the organizing motions and the consent calendar) and one added during the session.
There were 537 voting members participating in the Zoom session on Oct. 17, 2020. Spectators and those without vote were able to follow the session via livestream. The recorded session can be found on our YouTube channel. 
Offerings were received for the Ministerial Call Fund, $2,404, and the Zarephath Emergency Relief Fund, $4,188.
Below is a summary of the matters addressed during the session. 
Consent Calendar
Members adopted the consent calendar. One item, RS-20-219 (see below), had been removed by the Oct. 9 deadline. Here is the calendar as approved.
RS-20-104 – 2021 Budget Resolutions
The 2021 Conference Budget was approved as presented by the Conference Council on Finance and Administration. See the budget (The budget also appears on pages 124-126 of the Pre-Conference Materials).
RS-20-105 – Election of Conference Treasurer
Members approved the election of John Cardillo as Conference CFO (Treasurer and Director of Administrative Services). Cardillo, who previously served as treasurer in the Greater NJ Conference, will begin his new role on Nov. 9. Read more about him
The following three resolutions (210-212), all requiring a change to the Conference rules, were brought by the Conference Council on Finance and Administration. 
The question of why these resolutions were sponsored by CCFA was raised during the discussion and was addressed by Conference Chancellor Bill Hewig, who cited ¶612 of the Book of Discipline.
Hewig said according to ¶612, CCFA is “a council of both finance and administration, and that includes procedural administration.” Since theses resolutions would affect the rules of procedure, Hewig said, CCFA’s sponsorship was appropriate, and was, in his view, “clearly within their jurisdiction as provided by the Book of Discipline.” 
RS-20-210 – Resolution to Amend the Conference Rules of Order to Allow Remote Voting
Members approved an amended version of this resolution. 
Members approved a motion made by Rev. Becca Girrell, pastor of United Community Church of Morrisville (VT), to remove the option of voting remotely by paper ballot. 
Revised line 36, page 75 of the Pre-Conference Materials would read:
Remote voting may be by use of a secure digital voting system approved by the Council on Finance and Finance Administration for this purpose
Conference Secretary John Blackadar will make an editorial change to remove “paper ballot” from the sentence that begins on line 41, page 75.
Members also approved a motion made by Pastor Kristy Besada of Main Street UMC in Nashua, NH, that the following would be added as point number one in the resolution (the other points would be re-numbered accordingly):
"The New England Conference of the United Methodist Church affirms its rich tradition of in-person conferencing and continues to recognize that in-person conferencing is always preferable to virtual voting and should be given priority."  
Bonnie Marden, lay member from Aldersgate UMC in Chelmsford, MA, asked that the Conference Chancellor review the amended version of RS 210 to ensure that it is not in conflict with the Book of Discipline or Robert’s Rules of Order. The recommendation was accepted and did not require a vote. 
RS-20-211 – Resolution to Amend the Conference Rules of Order by Revising the Membership of the Committee on Leadership/Nominations
Members tabled this resolution. In order for any further action on this resolution, it would have to be brought to a future session of the Annual Conference. 
RS-20-212 – Resolution to Amend the Conference Rules of Order to Restructure the Role of the Connectional Table
Members tabled this resolution. In order for any further action on this resolution, it would have to be brought to a future session of the Annual Conference.
RS-20-217 – Ratification of Disaffiliation Agreement (Brackett Memorial United Methodist Church)
Though several members expressed disappointment at the loss of Brackett Memorial, which is on Peaks Island in Maine, the resolution was approved. 
Assuming the payments are made by the church as outlined and the other conditions met, the disaffiliation would go into effect on or around Jan. 1, 2021. 
Negotiations regarding the disaffiliation were completed prior to the Annual Conference session, so the decision to refer RS-20-219 back to the Board of Pensions (see below) does not affect Brackett Memorial. 
The question of Pastor Will Green’s status with The UMC was raised. Pastor Green is currently a provisional elder. Bishop Devadhar explained that anything related to clergy status is an issue for the Board of Ordained Ministry and the executive session of the clergy. 
RS-20-219 – Pension Liability Proposal
The 2019 General Conference decided that churches leaving the denomination must pay a portion of the overall pension liability to their Conference. This resolution laid out the Conference Board of Pensions’ recommendation for how that amount would be calculated. 
Members voted to refer this resolution back to the Board of Pensions for further work.
RS-20-221 – Election of United Methodist Foundation Board 
The Annual Conference was adjourned and reconvened as the Board of Directors of the United Methodist Foundation of New England in order to approve the slate of nominees for the Foundation Board. The slate was approved.
Motion regarding anti-racism training and the Conference hiring process
During the discussion around the election of the Conference Treasurer and Director of Administration Services, it was asked whether John Cardillo, who is white, has had any specific anti-racism training. 
The last item to be addressed in the session was a motion made by Rev. Virg Fryer, pastor of Bow Mills UMC, in Bow, NH, who proposed the following in light of that earlier discussion (links were added for this report):
“I move, in the Spirit of building the Beloved Community as envisioned by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, and laid out this morning in our Bishop’s Episcopal Address, that information be required in the hiring and interview process of the NEAC highlighting what training has been previously completed by applicants with regard to anti-racism and bias training, as well as white privilege training as applicable. I believe this is one action our Conference can take to meet the goals of the newly developed project the Bishop announced: Cornerstone: Claiming our past. Building a better future.”