Thursday, May 15, 2014

Day Two - Part Two - "The Vote"

The Wednesday session here at Dulles was quite interesting, characterized by the "votes"  highlighted in my last post. It seemed 'extraordinary,' at least to those of us present, that there was a 95% "yes" to "willing to change position" in order to accomplish the mission, meaning, changes that might mean moving to a different job, were, rather than 'feared,'  . . ..  'affirmed!'

No one would have expected that as historically, to some cynics, it has seemed that "loosing ones job" or better, having to "change jobs" was supposed to be more important that anything else. Not sure that was ever true for most, but some have that impression.

What was most interesting to me in yesterdays afternoon session was the speeches at the microphone which addressed the topic of "changing structure in order to facilitate" mission, save money, etc.,

Understand that there are 58 conferences  with Executive Officers represented,  9 Unions, much of the NAD leadership, University Presidents,  AHS officials, and, the cultural mix among these leaders represents significant diversity, and . ..  those perspectives and differences "played out" in the various speeches at the microphone. A number of those at the mic addressed the importance and role or questioning the value in today's society of the Regional State conference mix.

The comments at the mic were at times quite lengthy - probably too lengthy in most cases - as individuals addressed or offered various scenarios for changing structure, OR, warning that changes to structure posed risk. The treasurer from Florida, Duane Rollins?, proposed a thoughtful option, that suggested the Southern Union move from 8 local conferences to two Unions covering all the SE U.S., I told Steve Rose I was good on that idea,  " as long as one of the Unions is the Kentucky-Tennessee Union!"  (FYI - said with a smile)

Most intriguing to me were a few opinions that spoke of a desire to address redundancy, overlap, and financial waste in duplication, BUT, at the same time seemed to believe the present organization is "perfect." I'm not sure how you meaningfully address cost savings and "alignment for mission" while maintaining a 'hands off' the structure position.

In our break-out groups, an individual from AHS made a very helpful comment in the midst of conference leaders bantering back and forth about their version of what's important to change or not change . . He said, "In my world, you determine what end-result, or goals you are desiring to achieve, such as "we want to carve out, save, a million dollars, and then you determine a strategy to get there."

I thought that was quite helpful if simple advice in the midst of leaders doing what they sometimes do best in the church, talk, and talk, and talk and "detour" away from the agenda.  Remarkably, these meetings do seem very intentional on addressing change within structures.

A motion was made and passed around lunch time that in essence said, "By the time of 2014 NAD Year End Meetings, the NAD leadership will have comprised a committee that will bring recommendations to the NAD attendees." That passed with a 80% "plus" vote of support.

Now THAT"S the easy part. What changes would be recommended? The only organizational entity that the NAD is in charge of is the NAD. It can affect "policies" that may touch the rest of us, but it cannot 'force' a Union or local conference to "drop" a department, OR, collectively do their payroll in one center than than on multiple sites etc.,

I'll end with this thought: "which " organizations, and "what" level deserves to be the focus of structural change seems very uncertain as well as highly debated. At this early stage of conversation, that's not surprising. I am of the opinion, and I hope always will be, that within the organization the local conference IS the most important entity to the success and mission of the church. It is 'closest' to the ministry of church and school, less removed, more accountable to constituents, and is far more invested in the day to day operation of the local church.

However, again not surprisingly, speeches were made that spoke of the benefit of the "higher" organizations, which I would not deny, but if pressed to make tough decisions, as one president said in our break out group, we will all have to give up Something.  You can't give up  "nothing" in this conversation/issue, and expect to get back "a lot."

Someone asked me last night if the discussion and report on NAD education came with any motions or votes. The answer is "no." It was simply a report, but I found it enlightening and helpful as we navigate SDA education in KYTN.

Today's agenda is "Where do we go from here?" with a report from family ministries that will include the LBGT topic and the churches stand/position in the changing social landscape that now (have you noticed) not only embraces same-sex activity, but seems to celebrate it. Will also address women's ordination.  This should be another day of "engaging" conversation.

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