Voting members of the 29th Session of the Dakotas Annual Conference approved all pieces of legislation before them, including everything on the consent calendar. Access the legislation.
New this year was voting with electronic devices. Option Technologies provided each voting member of the body a push button device. Voting on each motion took place, 30 seconds, with results displayed instantly. Everyone had to pick up their device each morning and return the voting device each day.
Kelsey Morgan, program assistant for the Dakotas Methodist Foundation, coordinated the distribution and volunteeer assistance with the voting devices. "Everything went smoothly. People were receptive to using the voting devices," she said.
Here’s a look at key items, along with some of the details behind them:
The 2023 budget was approved, including apportionments and direct billing, totaling $6,419,729. The 2023 budget represents a 7.25 percent decrease from 2022.
After Item 2.3 was lifted from the consent calendar, an amendment requesting that a $24,639 housing allowance for the Northeast District Superintendent in the 2023 Budget was approved. CCFA met and adjusted line items in the budget proposal but not the overall budget.
“CCFA continues to work toward decreased apportioned requests to churches in the future to reach a goal of 10%,” said Rev. Jeff Adel, chair of the Conference Council on Finance and Administration.
In the 2023 Budget, there will be a decrease in the apportioned request to churches from 15% to 14%. The goal remains to get to 10%.
Several reasons contribute to the request decrease: some churches have indicated they were withholding apportionments because of the denominational conflict over human sexuality and have paid their apportionments; travel has decreased, people are traveling less for in-person meetings, and general church apportionments were reduced.
Through the 2023 budget, the Dakotas Conference will continue to invest in these strategic areas:
Legislative Item 1.2: This resolution passed and calls for establishing a new standing committee, created by the Common Table, to navigate Inter-Methodist Relations. The purpose of this committee is to keep the conversation going about opportunities for expanding our shared Wesleyan witness.
Some shared services would be helpful during the transition, while others could become long-term partnerships.
Services that could help during the transition include payroll, bookkeeping, new church oversight, church training and consulting, and communications.
Services that could be provided through a long-term partnership could include camping ministries, missionary support, archives, benefits administration, legacy funds, and services provided through the Dakotas-Minnesota Methodist Foundation.
Any official action would be approved by the proper groups, including, but not limited to, the Common Table, the Board of Trustees, and the Cabinet.
Legislative item 1.3: Changes to lay equalization: Legislative item 1.3 passed. The legislation delineates changes to the lay equalization formula so that the last paragraph of p. 183 of the 2021 Conference Journal includes language related to apportioned giving.
The specific changes are:
The term “expected apportionments” are defined as the Conference-determined percentage of each church’s income received for the support of the operating budget. For purposes of this section, payments of “expected apportionments” shall not apply to mission congregations.
Legislative item 1.4 passed. The legislation recommends specific modifications to the Disaffiliation Process for local churches leaving the United Methodist Church. The specific modifications proposed are:
The legislation is retroactive to 2021 to include an evaluation of the disaffiliation of the former Prairie Winds United Methodist Church and support and care for the members of Dickinson United Methodist Church.
Disaffiliation process updated: A presentation of the updated Disaffiliation Process was received and time was spent in plenary sessions fielding questions.
In 2019, the General Conference passed legislation giving churches the right to disaffiliate from the denomination for reasons of conscience related to the legislation passed at that Conference regarding matters of human sexuality or the actions or inactions of its annual conference related to those matters which followed. The rules and procedures for local churches and Annual Conferences are set by General Conference and are all contained in the Book of Discipline. This legislation, paragraph 2553, was passed to allow a more uniform process for disaffiliation under certain circumstances.
The individuals and groups tasked with detailing the process and terms for churches in the Dakotas were the Conference board of trustees, the cabinet, the annual conference treasurer, benefits officer and director of connectional ministries, and the annual conference chancellors.
Following the disaffiliation of Dickinson Prairie Winds UMC, the steps outlined in the process have been evaluated based on input from individuals who experienced or were near the process in Dickinson. The delay of the General Conference until 2024 also prompted some changes to the process.
Here are the specific adjustments to the disaffiliation process: