The General Board – Introduction (1.1.1)

The General Board has three major purposes:  a. Oversee Programs of the Church, b. Administer and propose the General Budget on behalf of the General Conference, and, c. Provide for the accountability of Church Departments and Agencies.

Even the denomination from which we borrowed much of the “General Board” structure has abandoned that model.  Our purposes may be better served with the “Next” development of administration through the “Next General Board.”

Major Areas for Advanced Development

  1.  Creation of “free standing” Boards for the Department of Retirement Services and Department of Publication.
    1. Rationale: Both of these Departments deal with more money (over $125 million for Retirement Services) than the other departments.  Their operations call for attention from persons with more expertise than can be afforded with a “general” board.  The management of our retirement funds should not rest with a single person having limited knowledge of, and participation in, major administrative decisions.  Similarly, we support a major business, including building a multi million dollar structure in Nashville, without clear protocols beyond a single individual.  While a functioning board is not a magic cure all, it will provide a platform for a next generation of administration and accountability.
    2.  Proposal: Create a Retirement Services Board and a Publications Board
  2.   Rethink Commissions as we currently apply the term in the Discipline.
    1.   Rationale:  The number of commissions has expanded since the inception of the General Board.  There are constituent groups which function with a fully active board (eg., The WMS and The Lay Organization).  Such organizations do not require the same scrutiny as departments which serve without the benefit of a sitting board (eg., Christian Education, Evangelism and Missions).  In addition, there are task oriented commissions which are not able to function at an optimal level as we have restricted official functioning to a small, overburdened group of General Board Members (eg., Ministry and Economic Development)
    2.   Proposal: 1.  Create a Retirement Services Board and a Publications Board.  Move the functions of the Commission on Retirement Services and Commission on Publications to the new, respective boards.  Remove those commissions from the list of standing commissions.  2.  Remove the Lay Organization, Women in Ministry and the Woman’s MIssionary Society from the purview of the relevant commission. Provide for those groups to submit annual audits to Statistics and Finance and establish a path for their leadership to bring policy, coordinating and other matters directly to the General Board from their executive committees as necessary.  3. Create “commissions” outside of the General Board structure to be more inclusive of persons with appropriate skills and interests.  The Commissions on Health, Economic Development, Ministry & Recruitment and Seminaries, Colleges and Universities could function in this manner.  There are persons, not serving on the General Board who would represent the Districts (lay and clergy) on a volunteer basis.   Meeting could take place in various ways, at various times.  It would create bodies of persons who will both know the details and bring broader support to the work of these commissions.  Actionable proposal would come to the General Board on an “as needed” basis.
  3.   Reduce the number of persons on the General 
    1. Rationale:  With a reduction of up to eight (8) commissions, the size of the General Board can be reduced to 3 per district.  This will reduce cost and allow the body more efficient functionality.  Vital participation in the “next” freestanding boards will keep the number of involved persons at the same or greater levels. (No one need be threatened by losing a position.)
    2. Proposal:  Reduce the number of members on the General Board from 5 to 3 with the same existing clergy/lay/youth pattern of selection.


5 thoughts on “The General Board – Introduction (1.1.1)

  1. Would there be quantifiable date to show how the proposal would reduce the overall budget for the Church? In turn, this wouid create seperate governance for those two essential departments. The question that would arise is in the management structure. Would we then change the polity from electing General Officers for these departments? As of now, the Publications department has the title of President/Publisher. Would it then go to term limits and with a governing board from outside to current structure to gain deeper insight from those with relevant experience?


    1. Thank you for these queries. 1. If we project a conservative figure of $1,000 in expenses per member of the General Board (travel, lodging, meals), the savings would be about $40,000 per year. The funding of the two separate boards could be generated by those departments. 2. For the moment, I am not proposing doing away with the election of the general officers for those departments. A strong case could be made for doing so, though. It is difficult to fill, by election, offices that call for numerous, specific skills. 3. Contracting leadership and limiting terms aside, having free standing boards and broader “commissions” would give talent a place to develop, and, as you observe, cultivate persons who can better assess the gifts of candidates and the functions of the offices.

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  2. GB 1 – This sounds like a feasible and efficient way to restructure the GB. I agree with the rationale for creating a retirement services board. I am not sure I understand the reason for the publishing department. I thought we had something in place that addresses the oversight for the publishing department.
    GB 2 – As a member of the Lay Organization, your suggestions is also a feasible recommendation. The current and past commission chairs appear to serve in more of an advisory capacity than providing direct oversight. Our executive board provides a great deal of oversight and direction.
    GB-3 – This would be great cost savings to the church. I would also suggest that we really consider moving to web-conference meetings to also decrease cost.


  3. Thank you, DOLA Reaves. GB1 – There is no mechanism for regular oversight of the AME Publishing House. There was a structure in place (hence PRESIDENT and Publisher titles for the general officer), however, the “board” has not been a functional entity to my knowledge. When one looks at the funds involved and the impact of publishing for the church, there is a need for more than an hour of interaction. Moreover, the current system does not necessarily support the use of persons with special, helpful knowledge and the General Board is a limited, closed body.

    Web-conference meetings will be a great asset to our “Next” era of administrative structure.


  4. Yes web conferences are an option But would have to be structured. Also some web conferences, the host had the capability of blocking or muting That would be a concern.


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