Proposal Passes to Focus on Decentralization and Reduction in Expenses for the TAC
By Lindsay Peyton
At the recent Annual Conference, the Strategic Mapping Team’s proposal was approved, paving the way for reductions in expenses and decentralization. The move will shift the focus to empower Districts and local churches in their ministries. Treasurer Rev. Carol Bruse explained that now the Conference can move forward implementing changes – and members can grow stronger together.
During the Annual Conference, 1,021 voted for the plan and 254 were opposed. In pre-conference meetings, a straw poll resulted in 89 percent approval of the proposed plan.
The proposal calls for reducing Conference expenses between $4 and $5 million over the next three years. The TAC staff and committees would be consolidated. Local churches and Districts would also be strengthened.
Bruse explained that the Strategic Mapping Team drafted its proposal over a two-year period. The mission was to make the TAC more efficient and effective, with streamlined operations and simplified communications. Initial recommendations were shaped by nine District “Listening Sessions” and an online survey in 2019.
At the time, Bruse said, participants were asked to envision how the Conference could become more connected in the next 20 years. “We knew we were facing changes in the denomination, and we felt strongly that we wanted to be proactive and not reactive,” she said.
The coronavirus pandemic reinforced that vision -- demonstrating the importance of the Conference running smoothly, effectively and efficiently. “This has accelerated the need to disciple differently,” Bruse said.
The approved Strategic Mapping Team proposal will place discipleship into the hands of local churches and Districts. “Nimble is the word,” Bruse said. “We’ll be ready and more adaptable, no matter what the future brings.”
Team members include Rev. Elizabeth Duffin, John Esquivel, Stephanie Griffin, Dr. Vincent Harris, Royce Hickman, Rev. Karen Jones, Bishop Scott J. Jones, Rev. Romonica Malone-Wardley, Dr. Elijah Stansell, Rev. Matt Stone, Rev. Kate Walker, Rev. Tommy Williams and Rev. B.T. Williamson.
Their proposal calls for measure to be implemented on or before July 1, 2023. Bruse explained during the Annual Conference session, that six steps can be taken immediately now that the plan is approved.
Texas Annual Conference Lay leader John Esquivel shares in his address how important it is that we as a church move forward to be positioned for the future.
First, Rev. Kip Gilts, Assistant to the Bishop, said the current Conference nominating committee will begin receiving nominations for elected positions on the new committees and boards. All current committee and board members will continue for an additional year.
The Core Leadership Team will also be renamed the “Conference Leadership Team” and expanded to include new positions, including all District Superintendents and the District Leadership Team chairs. District Leadership Team chairs will become the new District representations. The current Conference Leadership Team at-large members will continue to serve until new members are elected at Annual Conference 2021.
Rev. Gilts will design an organizational retreat for the new Conference Leadership Team in the fall. The focus will be on building relationships, assigning responsibilities and developing strategies.
In addition, the Bishop will appoint a Conference Rules and Structure Task Force, which will work with Gilts to recommend revisions to the Conference Rules and Structure, necessary for the new strategic direction. The task force will return with its suggestions at the next Annual Conference.
A Conference Property Task Force will also form to assess all properties in the TAC – and consider selling or leasing them. The task force will present a progress report at Annual Conference 2021.
“We’re looking at all of our conference properties,” Bruse said. “Properties are expensive to maintain. In this day and age, do we still want that expense. In some cases, it’s worthwhile and in some, it’s not.”
Finally, the proposal calls for implementing continuous accountability right away. “Our promise to the Conference, we will continue to be transparent,” Bruse said.
At each future Annual Conference, progress reports will detail the implementation of the Strategic Mapping Team proposal. There will also be a “ministry audit” every two years, when an outside professional will review Conference progress towards reaching its goals.
“This is so we don’t get off track,” Bruse said. “We’re holding ourselves accountable.”
While the coronavirus pandemic has changed the timeline – delaying the Annual Conference – the votes have now been counted, and measures can move forward.
“We’re not going to waste any time,” Bruse said. “We will definitely hit the ground running.”
She likens the proposal to one of her father’s sayings: “You can’t steer a parked car.”
“This gets us moving together in the right direction,” she said. “If we have to accelerate, we can, or we can coast a little bit. But we’re still moving forward. Now we can steer.”
To read the full Strategic Mapping Team proposal, visit txcumc.org/strategic-mapping-proposal.