The April 25, 2016 meeting of the Connectional Table was devoted primarily to reviewing the proposed 2017 Conference budget, specifically the funding for New England Missions (Fund 2), which includes requests from program leaders.
The Connectional Table, which was formed under the Strategic Plan, began meeting in January 2016. This is its first year participating in the budget process.
The goal for Connectional Table members is to determine if the requests:
- fit with the Conference vision, mission, and align with the Strategic Plan
- are areas where the Conference should be devoting its resources
- are appropriate amounts for 2017
Conference Council on Finance and Administration (CFA) Chair Ralph Howe, joined the meeting by conference call to introduce the budget, which he described as "the culmination of so much work by so many."
"This is where the rubber hits the road," Rev. Howe said. "This is when you sit down and say, 'these dollars are going to be invested in the most effective way to achieve the mission and vision.' What matters is your determination whether a particular budget item makes sense in terms of our Strategic Plan."
In a line-by-line review, the Connectional Table reduced the New England Missions requests by a total of $49,750. The CFA, in its meeting April 27, finalized the budget proposal, which calls for no increase in mission shares apportioned to local churches.
Acknowledging that this is a transition year for the Connectional Table – as well as for many Conference boards and committees that are without chairs or full membership – the Connectional Table retained the practice of offering some minimal funding to groups that did not submit requests.
Connectional Table members agreed, however, to write letters to all of those represented in the 2017 New England Missions budget outlining the Connectional Table's requirements for more detailed spending reports and budget requests going forward.
In other business …
Connectional Table member Kim MacLeod, laity, announced that she will be stepping down effective immediately.
Critical Area assignments
Under the Strategic Plan, the Conference’s committees and boards have been grouped under the five critical values. Members of the Connectional Table have been assigned to act as liaisons to the committees/boards aligned under each of the values. The bishop and Rene Wilbur, Connectional Table convener and vice chair respectively, and staff members Bill Burnside and Erica Robinson-Johnson were not assigned.
The assignments will be for two years, after which members can seek to change assignments if they choose.
- Spiritual Life – Geisa Matos-Machuca and Kristabeth Atwood
- Vital Faith Communities – David Abbott
- Diversity and Inclusivity – Ronald Wilson and Jiyoung Jin
- Leadership development and accountability – Yoo-Yun Cho-Chang and Steven Dry
- Stewardship – Bernie Campbell
The Connectional Table has scheduled a visioning retreat for Oct. 7 and 8, 2016, during which members will meet with the representatives of the Conference's various boards and agencies. The goal for the retreat is to set the Connectional Table's priorities and goals – as well as to structure the budget process.
Pilgrimage to Korea
Bishop Sudarshana Devadhar announced that the spiritual pilgrimage to Korea is expected to be full, with 31 participants from the New England Conference and one person the bishop has invited from India, who will travel at his own cost.
Bernie Campbell, president of the Conference Board of Trustees, updated the Connectional Table on Covenant Hills Christian Camp in Vermont. He drew up a site-use agreement for any third parties that are interested in using Covenant Hills for retreats or programs. The Vermont Task Force on Camping/Retreat and Outdoor Ministries announced on April 20, 2016, that the camp will be open to outside groups (read that announcement).
The Connectional Table has scheduled a tentative conference call for Thursday, May 26, 2016.