The church conference is the highest governing authority in a United Methodist congregation. It is normally convened every year in the fall. The district superintendent calls and convenes the church conference. It is to be announced twice in worship. Printed notice is also given to the congregation, usually through the bulletin and/or newsletter.
Church members attending the called church conference constitute the quorum required for voting. Members present at this conference are authorized to set the pastor’s salary, housing and furnishings allowance. They may also vote to remove church members from the rolls. The church conference also votes on the election of officers and other leaders. The church conference may also vote on building and property matters such as buying or selling property or taking out a mortgage.
Between church conferences, the administrative board acts as the governing body of the church. The various committees and work areas are all accountable to and report to the administrative board. But the authority of the church conference supersedes that of the administrative board.
On Sunday, October 23, 2016, Rev. Kennetha Bigham-Tsai, Lansing District Superintendent, convened a special church conference for the purpose of voting on our Vital Church Initiative report and prescriptions. The vote was 127 yes, 26 no and 1 abstention. That vote authorized the pastor and our VCI coach, Naomi Garcia, to form task forces for the purpose of implementing the VCI prescriptions.
It is important to note that the vote authorized the task forces to implement their prescriptions. Task forces may study their prescriptions and recommend various methods of implementation. If implementation requires money not currently in the budget or changes to the physical plant, the task force will have to work with the finance committee and the trustees to implement their prescriptions. The task forces don’t have to secure permission to implement their prescriptions, though, as that was already given them with the October 23, 2016, vote.
Monthly meetings have been scheduled with task force leaders and the Vital Church Initiative Team to insure that they communicate about the implementation of prescriptions. On the fourth Thursday of every month, at 7:00 p.m., a VCI progress update meeting will be held in the sanctuary. This is being done so that anyone interested in learning about the implementation process can receive updates about what is being done and what is being planned. The congregation is encouraged to come to these meetings to both receive information and ask questions.
~ Rev. William C. Bills