I talked with my wife a few minutes ago and shared that today's agenda focused, almost entirely, on two items: the NAD budget, and, the proposal to increase funding for NAD retirement. The first issue, the NAD budget, occupied hours of discussion which normally would not be the case, except, this year, a recent General Conference action returns around 1.5 million dollars back to the NAD - tithe funds. This prospect of "available money" generated a lot of discussion from the floor exploring the possibility of those funds being returned, in some form, to local conferences. That sounds great on the surface; however, it was argued that should some form of returning those funds to the local conferences take place, it would negatively impact, if not conclude, the NAD mission/vision strategy which focuses on a number of areas of ministry going forward. In the end, the voted actions of the delegates defeated initiatives to give further study or open the door to doing anything different with these monies other than to support the NAD recommendation to use the funds for furthering division ministry initiatives, as well, as for the first time in many years, balance the NAD budget which has been in a deficit position for some time.
The second issue which took more time than I anticipated, was in response to the NAD's recommendation to increase by around 1.5 %, overall, funding of the NAD retirement plan for those who are receiving the defined benefit provision. The case was made quite clearly that unless this action was taken, that a deficit/shortfall for NAD retirement funds was certain. This has come about as the result of several factors not the least of which is the failure of retirement investments to yield the expected rate of return needed to fund retirement.
Before this item came up for a vote, the NAD officers huddled with Union administrators and agreed that the NAD would absorb, each year, until 2024, which is when these extra monies would no longer be needed, to contribute annually, around 2.5 million dollars. This was welcome news in that it would reduce the amount the 58 local NAD conferences will have to absorb in order to ensure that retirement remains solvent. Following this announcement, the recommendation passed by a wide margin.
As the day concluded, I had opportunity to tour, for the first time, the Hope TV studios, which were newly opened two years ago. The studio is a beautiful state of the art facility, that, as I toured it with the Hope TV Director, Brad Thorp, will continue to expand its footprint in the U.S., with entry into the cable TV market.
Tomorrow, Tuesday, two items will be debated at length, I am sure. One, is the recommendation to support a 1.5% cost of living increase for next year, and second, a review and likely newly voted action on womens ordination. Last years action, we were told at the opening session, did not hold up under legal review. The conflict arose in that NAD policy cannot deviate from voted GC policy. However, this does not, according to many, prevent the Unions, and apparently even local conferences, from voting their own positions on womens ordination. Most are aware that both the Pacific Union and the Columbia Union have voted to support women's ordination, and one local conference, the SouthEastern California Conference, has voted to endorse and provide for women's ordination to the Gospel Ministry.
I won't have the ability to report all of tomorow's actions as I will not be present for what will likely prove to be an all day discussion; I need to return to Nashville before the days business will conclude.
Hope you have found the reports to be of interest . . .