Restructured Connectional Table holds first meeting

The Connectional Table's 2017 Fall Retreat with Conference leaders.

January 25, 2018

The Connectional Table held its first meeting of 2018 on Jan. 24.
This was the first regular meeting of the Connectional Table since the 2017 Annual Conference approved changes to its composition and function.

The 2017 Annual Conference approved a number of changes to the Conference rules, which included the following, “[The Connectional Table] will operate according to the example of the General Conference Connectional Table, following the spirit of what is laid out for that body in paragraphs 903 and 904 of the 2016 Book of Discipline.” (Click the link to see those paragraphs).

The Connectional Table’s first retreat with leaders of Conference boards and committees was held in November 2017. It was at the retreat that the Connectional Table elected its new co-chairs: Joan Klein, a lay member of Haven UMC in Providence, RI, and the Rev. Ron Wilson, retired.
Since the retreat, Rev. Wilson and the Rev. Kristabeth Atwood have stepped down from the Connectional Table for health and personal reasons respectively. The Board of Ordained Ministry will nominate clergypersons for the open positions to be considered by the Committee on Leadership/Nominations. Click the links to find the list of Connectional Table members on our website; and see the Connectional Table membership list by position, as outlined in the Strategic Plan.
The fall retreat is designed to offer leadership training and to help Conference boards and committees set priorities and goals. One responsibility of the Connectional Table is to ensure that groups are functioning in alignment with the Conference’s five critical values.
Members discussed the fall retreat, and they will be asking attendees to complete an evaluation of the event via email survey. 
Won Park, a lay member of North Boston Korean UMC in Andover, MA, said the fall retreat inspired him to think about the possibility of creating clusters of churches that are in similar contexts so that they could share resources and ideas.
Creating contextual rather than geographic clusters, Park said, “May have more possibility for collaboration among churches. This kind of retreat with committees and agencies will be helpful in encouraging those possible collaborations.”
The Rev. Erica Robinson-Johnson, Director of Connectional Ministries/Assistant to the Bishop, said she’s already seeing the retreat bear fruit with regard to collaboration.
The United Methodist Women (UMW) and the Conference’s camp and retreat centers are already talking to each other about possible shared programming, she said.
At the UMW’s 2017 annual meeting, the bishop challenged them to do more with younger women, and the camps work with young people, so it is a point where they can help each other, Rev. Robinson-Johnson said.
“That would not have happened if we didn’t have some time for people to get to know each other and talk about where their work crosses over,” she said. “We need to continue to encourage those kinds of conversations.”
Klein agreed, saying “It’s not just us connecting to boards and committees, but helping the boards and committees connect to each other. We’ve had some success from the retreat, but there’s so much more that could be done, and we can be facilitators of that.”
The Connectional Table set the dates for the 2018 fall retreat, which will take place Sept. 28-29; the location has not been determined. (Click here to read more about the 2017 retreat).
The restructured Connectional Table will meet three to four times a year. In addition to the fall retreat, they will meet in January, in March, and possibly have one additional meeting, if needed, in preparation for the Annual Conference session.
At its next meeting, March 7, 2018, members will be focused on budgeting. Budget requests are due to the Conference Treasurer by March 1.
The Connectional Table is responsible for reviewing and making recommendations regarding requests for funding from the programming budget (Fund 2). The Connectional Table then passes its recommendations to the Conference Council on Finance and Administration (CFA), which develops the proposed budget for the Conference.
The Connectional Table continues to develop and refine its evaluation procedures and expectations for budget requests. Some of those expectations are outlined in the letter asking boards and committees for their budget requests.
The letter states, in part:
“The Connectional Table and CCFA will be reviewing all program and discretionary requests to determine whether they meet with the mission, goals, core values and key objectives of the Strategic Plan. … Please bear in mind that we are looking for evidence-based programs, with proven and measurable effectiveness, not in simply counting bodies and contacts, but transformation that moves toward our missional goals and objectives.”
“What we asked for is fruitfulness and evidence that it’s making a transformational difference in the Conference according to the goals of the Strategic Plan,” Rev. Robinson-Johnson said.
Those seeking funding, she said, should be making disciples or doing something that is fruitful for the kingdom. “That’s our task: To be good stewards of our resources and to hold people accountable.”