Texas Annual Conference

TAC 2016 General Notes

Summary notes from the Texas Annual Conference, held May 29 through June 1, 2016.  I attended all seven of the Business Sessions.  The Spirit filled worship services and devotionals set the tone for three days of Holy Conferencing.

There is literature available if you are interested in seeing more information which includes the schedule of events and the meeting schedule; program outlining the worship services; and the preconference journal.  Contact Peggy Rawls for more information.

Page 1 & 2 – General comments and key points of the three Keynote Speakers

Pages 3 thru 5 – the results of the petitions and resolutions

Pages 6 & 7 – summaries of the reports given during the conference

One of our past pastors, Rev Gary Leinhart received the Eddie Murray Educators Award.

There were three morning devotionals entitled “Why I’m Hopeful about the United Methodist Church.”.  They were presented by three young ministers in the TAC, David Briggs who was ordained on Tuesday and is a pastor in Lufkin; Hannah Terry, a deaconess in Houston; and Jacob Breeze a minister in Houston.

The five Worship Services were conducted by Bishop Huey, and two retiring ministers, Dr. Chuck Simmons and Rev. Bill Taylor.

The first of three keynote speakers was Rev. Ruben Saenz – “Preparar el Camino” (Prepare the Road).  He is serving as the Rio Texas Director of Connectional Ministries.  Below is a quick summary of his comments

It’s all about building relationships.  A fruitful mission starts with developing a relationship.  People want to be seen and be valued – Listen, be a friend, eat with; share witness, understand their culture – develop a missional relationship.  Don’t begin a mission by telling the people what you are going to do for them.  Ask “what do you need?”  How can we help each other?  This is a 50/50 partnership.  They have things to offer us as well as what we have to offer them.

A few Statistics:    The membership of the UMC is 1 % – Hispanic; 1% – Asian; and 4% – black.  The UMC ranks 25th out of 29th in diversity.  Muslims are more diverse than the UMC

The average age of the Hispanic in the US is 27 yr old

Average age of Blacks is 30.9 yr old

Average age of Asians is 33.2 yr. old

Average age of whites is 43.3 yr. old

The second keynote speaker was Rev. Tom Berlin – Who’s Kids are they?  He is serving as minister at Floris UMC in Herndon, Virginia.  They are ministering to a Title 1 school with a population that speaks at least 30 different languages.  This school has a high immigrant population and is very multicultural.

Their Process going forward with their ministry & with any ministry:

  • Ask “How can we help” – They talked with principal and teachers about their needs
  • The minister asked the church – Are these our kids? They had to re-center their vision. They are changing the poverty mindset for the next generation
  • We need to show that we care. Do things because we love.
  • Ask yourself – What is at stake? Is something at Stake?
  • God loves acts of mercy and justice
  • Working in the school or anywhere allowed God to work in us
  • People believe that we care about them
  • Create a space (church atmosphere) that people want to be a part of….

Key Points:  We can be in a community and not be “in community” with people – We need to build Relationships.  We must begin with service and then move to invitation.

1.)  Begin with what’s possible – Ask – Don’t make promises that you can’t keep

2.)  Be a humble partner – let the (target) folks set the course.  Don’t tell them what they need, let them tell you what they need.

3.)  It’s all about relationships – passion, justice, mercy – our mission should also change us; if it doesn’t then we aren’t doing it right

4.)  Get resources to help–books; DVD’s; training; etc.;  Book – “Educating All God’s Children”

PRUNE WHAT DOESN’T WORK

The Virginia Senator told Rev Berlin that they can look at # of 3rd graders that are not reading at their grade level and can then project how many jail cells will be needed

The third keynote speaker was Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey – Inspired Leadership.  She is currently serving as the Bishop of Louisiana.

Key Points:  The charge for our leaders is to save souls not save churches.  Our leaders must:

  • Be creative
  • Try Experimentation
  • Be Risk taking (non-conformist)

Take direct action and change environment – Go to the people – nurture and transform – build relationships.  We must move from “yes, but” to “yes, and”.   What are our core values?

We do a lot of stuff but… How do we make change?  Are we addressing the root causes?  Example:  Food pantries are good and are needed but are we addressing the root cause.  How can we bring folks out of hunger?  We need outcome not output.  What will be different?  (lives should be transformed – ours and theirs).  An output is … We fed 200 folks per month; but what is the outcome?  If those folks are coming back week after week then we are not changing the outcome.

We need to get out of the institutional mind… we must not be happy with the status quo.

See possibilities instead of problems.  Check out (We Are More) at weararemore.faith

The theme in all three presentations by the keynote speakers was…. It’s all about building relationships.  A fruitful mission starts with developing a relationship.   In whatever mission a church feels led to undertake, we must first build relationships.

The following are the proposals and resolutions that were presented and voted on at the Texas Conference:

Proposal – Housing allowance change for churches that do not have parsonages -approved

Proposal – Vacation policy for clergy – approved

Years of Service          Paid Vac

  • Full-time local pastors and full-time clergy 5 yrs. or less    2 weeks paid
  • Part-time clergy 5 yrs. or less    1 week paid
  • Full-time clergy 5 yrs. to completion of 10th yr.                        3 weeks paid
  • Part-time clergy 5 yrs. to completion of 10th yr.                        2 weeks paid
  • Full-time clergy           10 yrs. to completion of 15th yr.                        4 weeks paid
  • Part-time clergy           10 yrs. to completion of 15th yr.                        3 weeks paid
  • Full-time clergy 15 yrs. or more                                                5 weeks paid
  • Part-time clergy 15 yrs. or more                                                3 weeks paid

Proposal – Resolution received in timely order, reviewed by the Social Principles Implementations Ministry group, & is included for your consideration.  This Resolution required a 2/3 vote to bring it before the body for action.  The vote was 260 yes and 365 no so the following proposal was not considered.

“When as a matter of conscience, pastors perform legal same gender weddings for family members or members of their churches, be it resolved that those assigned the responsibility to respond to such matters according to the process outline in the Book of Discipline, are encouraged to consider consequences other than the removal of credentials, as is allowed by the Book of Discipline, Paragraph 2711.3”

ProposalApproved the Slate of Nominations for the TAC

Proposal Approved the annual budget for 2017 for the TAC – revised down after General Conference.  Reduction of 4.69% after the General Church apportionments were changed- $22,636,275

Proposal Approved the Increase of deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses; co-pays; suspend ala carte incentives; move “over 65” retirees to one exchange; approved new laity rates; and increased co-pays for the Clergy Laity Group Health benefits

Proposal on Texas Annual Conference Standing Rules concerning Quadrennium Nominations was approved– Verbiage change on the following sentence ……. Persons may be nominated from the floor of the Annual Conference.  The nominator will indicate which person from the Nominating Committee’s report is to be replaced by the nominee.  Substitute nominations should be in the same category of inclusivity as the person in maintain or expand the diversity of the Nominations Committee’s report.  Votes on substitute nominees will be made individually prior to the vote on the full report

Proposal – Amendment to the Apportionment formulas was approved– churches who participate in a recognized program administered by an external party will be considered for additional deductions – be limited to three consecutive years.  This would be a $ for $ reduction in Apportionments for costs incurred – a written application for this deduction is required

Recognized programs include:

  • Vibrant Church Initiative
  • Healthy Church Initiative
  • Benchmark
  • Colinasway
  • Texas Methodist Foundation’s Holy Conversations
  • And other unidentified programs

Proposal – This was approved with the Defense category removed.  Review and recommend modifications and enhancements to the investment policy as needed.  This will allow the Investment Committee Rebalance the Portfolio as directed by the investment Policy Statement.  Investment in some categories is prohibited (the old policy dictated that the money could only be invested in bonds – I think)

Proposal Approved – Any Amendments to the terms and conditions of the Endowment Fund for Missions of the TAC (EFMTAC) may be recommended by the Missions Committee (or its successor) to the members of the TAC and must be approved by a majority vote of the TAC.  The Endowment Fund will be the TAC Advance Special for 2017

Resolutions before the conference:

Resolution on Historical site recognition of St Paul’s UMC – Port Arthur, Texas – Approved

Resolution on Unity – Calling upon the TAC leadership through the Core Leadership Team to continue to address issues that are sensitive and divisive, including but not limited to human sexuality by fostering regular, intentional opportunities for learning, conversation, and fellowship.  There be it finally resolved that Attendees of those learning opportunities intentionally seek out conversation with people of different viewpoints and opinions – Approved

Approved the Nominations for the Assistant to the Bishop Board of Ordained Ministry

Approved the Houston Methodist hospital and General Institution list of nominations for Board members and trustees

Amendment to the Lakeview Methodist Conference Center – Approved

At the October Board meeting the Lakeview Methodist Conference Center Board of Trustees entertained the motion to change wording with regards to additional members for the Executive Committee. The Board approved the proposed change with one other wording addition regarding the District Superintendent to specify the District Superintendent “of the geographic bounds of Lakeview Methodist Conference Center.”

The by-laws were amended as proposed with the addition of the phrase to further define the District Superintendent as shown above in quotes.  (Only the section where the changes have been made is shown)

ARTICLE V EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE

SECTION A

The following members of the Board of Directors shall be members of the Executive Committee:

  • Board Officers:
    • Chair
    • Chair-Elect
    • Secretary
    • Treasurer
    • Immediate Past Chair
  • At least two (2), but not more than four (4) other Directors The addition of up to two (2) other board members as may be needed to add expertise to the matter under consideration. These shall be chosen and contacted by the President or Chair and serve with voice but no vote
  • President/CEO
  • District Superintendent

Proposal – The Core Leadership Team recommended a $25 registration fee to the annual conference to offset the cost which is $250,000 to $300,000 so that the worship offerings would get to the ministries/missions of the TAC instead of the cost of the conference. After discussion, the proposal was changed to “optional donations” & was approved as an optional donation.

Justice for Our Neighbors – will continue to partner with the TAC. This memorandum sets out the understanding of Justice for Our Neighbors Houston (JFON Houston) and the Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church (TAC) concerning their relationship and their respective responsibilities to each other. Outlined in Addendum II (ask to see document if interested)..   The second week – the conference votes on the recommended petitions and resolutions that were approved in the committees.43% of the attendees were out of US and 9 languages were spoken and translatedSome petitions and the outcomes….. The General conference body requested guidelines and path forward from the Council of Bishops. The Council of Bishops will appoint a special committee. There will be a general conference between 2016 and 2020 to deal only with the same sex petitions and resolutions while staying within the discipline.In July the Southwest Judicial Council will meet and the TAC bishop will be named and appointed.They all felt that this General Conference was much more on the order of Holy conferencing than four years ago. More tolerant of other’s opinions with positive & open discussions.

Report on the 50/50 Covenant partnership with the Border. This partnership is requesting volunteers of four to six folks for a 3 year commitment. It’s more about building relationships (not about sending $$’s). It is a partnership with churches on the border both on the US side and on the Mexican side. No one will be put in harm’s way along the border. There is a training session in August in McAllen if anyone is interested. Check out Inmissiontogether.org

Report on the TAC special advance for 2015 & 2016 is ZOE. This initiative has reached 5000 orphans over seven countries. Thru this initiative these children moved from beggars to leaders and bosses. They live in their own countries, in their own villages and are feeding themselves. They have housing, health & hygiene resources; access to higher education and are running businesses. There are self-sufficient and should never be dependent on welfare again. There is a matching opportunity for a 3 year commitment of $3750/year for three years and an anonymous donor will match any funds pledged. This has to be pledged by the middle of June.

Finance Report – the TAC is debt free – in the last 12 years, the TAC has paid off a $1.2 & a $1 million debt.Break down of the 2016 offering collected during the worship services during the TAC –                                     $7,403 for border school supplies       Total =             $18,428

Chancellors’ report – There are no current lawsuits against the TAC. Be vigilant concerning copy right infractions; especially with Logos, music, webcast, podcasts; and even taking recipes from a magazine for a recipe book. A cottage industry has sprung up surfing the web looking for violations.

Report on Nominations – The committee requests input from all districts. They want to fill the positions with people that are interested in serving in their particular areas of choice – interested persons submit a request/application. This is not an easy task to fill all nominations. Diversity %’s are also considered when filling the positions.

Cokesbury Report is developing a new hymnal that is strictly in the cloud. Can replace or customize- create hymnal for each individual church

Communications Report – Check out UMC Church Communications on Facebook – also on twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Graphics and artwork available on line.

Report from the Mission Depot – in the past year every district in the conference has had a weather related disaster. Connecting neighbors – they will come in and train on how our church can be ready in case of an emergency.                        $4,586 for Emerging Leaders Endowment$6,439 to defray costs Concerning same sex petitions and resolutionsInvest in Palestine – yes; Divest from Israel – no; term limits for Bishops – no (61% for; required a ¾’s vote); New emblem adopted and will be a cyber based emblem that can be customized to individual churches. Restructuring of the General conference jurisdictions being considered.

Holy Conferencing Report Summary

Report from the General Conference held in Portland, Oregon: The first week each committee reviews the petitions and resolutions that have been submitted to that individual committee.  The committee recommends whether or not to take the petitions/resolutions to the floor for a vote.

The second week – the conference votes on the recommended petitions and resolutions that were approved in the committees.

43% of the attendees were out of US and 9 languages were spoken and translated

Some petitions and the outcomes…..

Invest in Palestine – yes; Divest from Israel – no;  term limits for Bishops – no (61% for; required a ¾’s vote); New emblem adopted and will be a cyber based emblem that can be customized to individual churches.  Restructuring of the General conference jurisdictions being considered.

Concerning same sex petitions and resolutions

The General conference body requested guidelines and path forward from the Council of Bishops.  The Council of Bishops will appoint a special committee.  There will be a general conference between 2016 and 2020 to deal only with the same sex petitions and resolutions while staying within the discipline.

In July the Southwest Judicial Council will meet and the TAC bishop will be named and appointed.

They all felt that this General Conference was much more on the order of Holy conferencing than four years ago.  More tolerant of other’s opinions with positive & open discussions.

Report on the 50/50 Covenant partnership with the Border.  This partnership is requesting volunteers of four to six folks for a 3 year commitment.  It’s more about building relationships (not about sending $$’s).  It is a partnership with churches on the border both on the US side and on the Mexican side.  No one will be put in harm’s way along the border.  There is a training session in August in McAllen if anyone is interested. Check out Inmissiontogether.org

Report on the TAC special advance for 2015 & 2016 is ZOE.  This initiative has reached 5000 orphans over seven countries.  Thru this initiative these children moved from beggars to leaders and bosses.  They live in their own countries, in their own villages and are feeding themselves.  They have housing, health & hygiene resources; access to higher education and are running businesses.  There are self-sufficient and should never be dependent on welfare again.  There is a matching opportunity for a 3 year commitment of $3750/year for three years and an anonymous donor will match any funds pledged.  This has to be pledged by the middle of June.

Finance Report – the TAC is debt free – in the last 12 years, the TAC has paid off  a $1.2 & a $1 million debt.

Break down of the 2016 offering collected during the worship services during the TAC –

$6,439 to defray costs

$7,403 for border school supplies

$4,586 for Emerging Leaders Endowment

Total =             $18,428

Chancellors’ report – There are no current lawsuits against the TAC.  Be vigilant concerning copy right infractions; especially with Logos, music, webcast, podcasts; and even taking recipes from a magazine for a recipe book.  A cottage industry has sprung up surfing the web looking for violations.

Report on Nominations – The committee requests input from all districts.  They want to fill the positions with people that are interested in serving in their particular areas of choice – interested persons submit a request/application.  This is not an easy task to fill all nominations.  Diversity %’s are also considered when filling the positions.

Cokesbury Report is developing a new hymnal that is strictly in the cloud.  Can replace or customize- create hymnal for each individual church

Communications Report – Check out UMC Church Communications on Facebook – also on twitter, Facebook and Instagram.  Graphics and artwork available on line.

Report from the Mission Depot – in the past year every district in the conference has had a weather related disaster.  Connecting neighbors – they will come in and train on how our church can be ready in case of an emergency.

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