Flexible Housing Task Force Meeting Summary For July 1, 2009

The Flexible Housing Task Force created by action of the 2009 West Michigan Annual Conference held its first meeting at the Marne UMC on July 1, 2009.  Ten of the 14 members were in attendance.

The members of the task force as constituted and limited by the Annual Conference are as follows:

“This task force shall be chosen by respective committee chairs and shall be representative of all involved in the appointive process and in housing issues, including one representative from each of the following groups as well as the individuals listed:

  • Board of Ordained Ministry – Lynn Grimes
  • Cabinet – Neil Davis
  • COSROW – Judy Coffey
  • Conf. Committee on Religion and Race -Patti Harpole
  • The Conference Trustees – Chuck VanLente
  • Committee on Equitable Compensation – David Hills
  • Up to 4 lay representatives of local churches who serve on its Staff Parish Relations Committee or other groups who have dealt with clergy housing matters.
    • David Lundquist
    • Ned Weller
    • Jean Bina
    • Jamie Zimmer
  • And the following individuals or their representatives:
    • Director of Connectional Ministries – Benton Heisler
    • Clergy Assistant to the Bishop – Terry Euper
    • Conference Treasurer – Pros Tumonong
    • Facilitator – Naomi García.”

The committee reviewed its make up and discussed ways to receive insights from those not directly represented in the 14 members assigned and/or selected for this responsibility.

The task force spent time raising various types of questions and issues it felt may be appropriate for it to consider in its work.  They also considered various ways they might frame the multiple discussion points related to this matter.  There will be a number of factual matters they intend to explore, such as but not limited to; existing policies, The Book of Discipline of the UMC-2008, relevant Judicial Council Rulings, salary and housing statistics, numbers and categories of clergy, congregational sizes, to name a few.

The task force spent time reviewing ways we will attempt to address both the confidential nature of some of the issues we will encounter and the mandate in the Annual Conference motion “to provide for dialogue, transparency and openness of process by holding open meetings in which feedback is sought.”

Individuals and congregations are invited to submit in writing their particular insights and experiences related to the issue of the Conference Flexible Housing Policy.  These comments may be submitted to the Director of Connectional Ministries, Rev. Benton R. Heisler P.O. Box 6247, Grand Rapids, MI 49516-6247 or via email, Benton@wmcumc.org.  The task force requests that your comments be summarized in 2 pages or less of 12 point font. Persons who have a particular desire to meet with the task force should note this and the task force will consider how this may best be accomplished.

This request is being posted on the Conference web site, in the Conference Weekly News e-mail distribution, through the Boards and Agencies represented on the task force and it will be distributed via the District Offices to the following local church positions:  Lay Member to Annual Conference, SPRC chairperson, Church Council chairperson, Trustee chairperson, Pastor.

We will post a summary of each meeting on the Michigan Area website www.michiganumc.org.

Our intention is to release our “preliminary final draft report” late in the fall and then meet the January 1, 2010 requirement as requested in the motion.

We request your prayers for our work and the many congregations and clergy impacted by this issue.

Submitted by Rev. Benton R. Heisler, Director of Connectional Ministries and Naomi García, Conference Ministry Consultant.