4. An Empowered Role for Statistics and Finance and Commissions
1. Rationale: In a more traditional application of the concept of a “general” board, the primary tasks center on finance. The salient questions are, a. have the funds allocated from the General Budget been used as intended by the General Conference, b. if not, should a further allocation be delayed or denied, c. should an amended use be approved. In addition, a report from general officers is available for review; it is a platform for discussion (and recommendations) related to policy and implementation; and, the work of the various general officers and components can be coordinated. In more recent decades, episcopal districts have been required to submit both budgets and audits for review. Fiscal review (arguably the most vital task of the General Board) lacks clear standards and direction by Discipline and tradition. Commissions with direct relationships to a general office should take the time to review audits and pass findings to the Commission on Statistics and Finance. Similarly, episcopal district audits should be reviewed annually to assure that district financial activity is true to the approved budget and queries are appropriately vetted. Finally, Statistics and Finance should step into the role of performance and accountability for the CFO and the CIO.
2. Proposals: 1. That we clarify a process for the review of audits by commissions. 2. That we clarify the expectations and process for the review of episcopal district budgets and audits. 3. That the role of Statistics and Finance as an oversight body for the CFO be clarified and affirmed.
Another section to follow
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
- Creation of “free standing” Boards for the Department of Retirement Services and Department of Publication.
- 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.
- Proposal: Create a Retirement Services Board and a Publications Board
- Rethink Commissions as we currently apply the term in the Discipline.
- 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)
- 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.
- Reduce the number of persons on the General
- 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.)
- Proposal: Reduce the number of members on the General Board from 5 to 3 with the same existing clergy/lay/youth pattern of selection.
TO BE CONTINUED