Connectional Table hosts online retreat

November 17, 2020

Leaders of the New England Conference’s boards, committees, and agencies gathered online on Nov. 14, 2020 for the Connectional Table’s annual leadership retreat. 
The Connectional Table is responsible for reviewing and making recommendations regarding requests for funding from the programming budget (Fund 2). 
As part of its responsibility for the program budget, the Connectional Table is charged with ensuring that boards, committees, and agencies are functioning in alignment with the Conference’s mission, vision and five critical values as laid out the in the Strategic Plan
The retreat is designed to resource Conference leaders in a number of ways including drafting their budget requests, accessing Conference resources, connecting across the Conference, raising up new leaders, and preparing for Annual Conference. 
This year’s retreat included a presentation by the Conference Commission on Religion and Race. 
Participants viewed this Ted Talk by Vernā Myers, diversity consultant: 

Participants then discussed the video in small groups discussion focused with the following questions: 
  • What are your reactions to the TED Talk? What resonated with you and why?
  • Do you see racism and implicit bias in yourselves? In others? How does it show up?
  • Recall the 3 steps that the talk suggests
    • Go Looking for Your Biases
    • Walk Toward Your Discomfort
    • Have the Courage to Say Something
  • What actions are you prepared to take to stand against racism?
Participants also had the opportunity to hear from Bishop Sudarshana Devadhar. 
“My sincere thanks to all of you for participating today – and all who participated as leaders today – especially CCORR – for the wonderful, insightful training,” said Bishop Devadhar. “… We do not know what 2021 will bring – with the Jurisdictional Conference and General Conference, and all that is before us, but as John Wesley reminded us so profoundly, ‘Best of all God is with us.’”
Saying that he is grateful for their leadership, the bishop encouraged General and NEJ Conference delegates to “be on top of all that is before us.” 
In his remarks, the bishop commended the General Board of Global Ministries, which installed the first Indian-Asian-American General Secretary, Roland Fernandes, who is a layperson. “I celebrate the inclusivity of our Church,” Bishop Devadhar said.
The primary focus of the retreat is to help boards and committees prepare their annual requests for funding in a way that clearly demonstrates their goals and alignment with the Conference’s mission and vison.
Rev. Erica Robinson-Johnson, Director of Connectional Ministries and Assistant to the Bishop, led an orientation for leaders, and emphasized the importance of alignment with the Strategic Plan.
“[The Strategic Plan] lays out our vision, our mission, our strategic values and lays out strategic plans for our Conference,” Rev. Robinson-Johnson said. “The Connectional Table hopes that this will guide all you do; that everything comes back to this, so we’re all working toward the same goals and objectives.” 
Over the last couple of years, the Connectional Table has been developing its funding request process – both in terms of budget request applications and its evaluation of those requests.
This year, Co-Chair Joan Klein walked participants through the process, emphasizing the need for groups to be specific about their plans and proposals. “Details, details, details,” she said.
At the same time, Klein acknowledged that, particularly now, it is challenging for groups that are trying to plan ahead. Quoting a draft of the 2022 Budget Request Guidelines, she said:
“We realize that during the pandemic and the uncertainty in the denomination with General Conference pending, it is difficult to project budget needs for the following year, but we encourage you to do the best you can. We anticipate making adjustments and reassessing commitments on a semi-annual basis in the coming year or years and ask for your adaptive leadership as well during these uncertain times.”
Budget requests for 2022 are due to the Conference Treasurer on March 1, 2021. If you have questions about making a budget request or need forms, contact your Connectional Table liaison or one of the co-chairs.