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May 27, 2008: Committee Survey, Committee 8, Mission Coordination and Budgets

DAY 9 ON nFoG WATCH: (I'm not counting Saturday or the weekend). The challenge stands, however, to show how the nFoG would better handle the divisive issues faced under the current Form of Government -- Jane Spahr, the Synod administrative commission regarding property decisions, and money. In other words, trace these cases through the specific provisions of the nFoG and show how the results would be better. Local option is not better; it would guarantee schism.

Committee 8, Mission Coordination and Budgets:

This is going to be brief for two reasons:

1. I am serving on this committee and am going to spend a lot more time studying this -- which inevitably would lead to much more detail than anyone not on this committee would be able to stand (there is, perhaps, nothing more boring than reading financial spread sheets; with the possible exception of reading my analysis of financial spread sheets); and,

2. I have already written about some of the major pieces coming before it: see here, here, here and here.

The real question is the question all commissioners and advisory delegates have to be asking about all of their committees right now, "What exactly are we going to get to do?"

Ostensibly, this business is coming before the committee so that we can discuss, debate, evaluate, and make prayerfully discerned recommendations to the plenary regarding the mission budget for the denomination's next two years. However, there is not much freedom to change what is being presented. I have been down this road before in previous Assemblies where only ONE year's budget was at stake. Now, where there are two years in the mix, it is less likely that there will be much room to maneuver. This committee is going to be asked to approve what has already been decided by the General Assembly Council.

In other words, this committee is not going to function like the Finance Committee of the local congregation's session. We are not invited to draft up a budget -- or even to do much in the way of re-prioritizing a budget someone else has already created. In past years efforts to make changes have met with staunch resistance from staff and have not been welcome by committee leadership. The committee leadership, relying on staff, have said,

  1. You can't do that, you are not allowed;
  2. You shouldn't do that; we have worked really hard on this and any changes would mess things up;
  3. You need to trust us; we know what we are doing and you do not know how this would impact everything else.

Now, combine that with the reality of who commissioners and advisory delegates are:

Reading this, it probably comes across as if everything the GAC proposes or the denomination does is bad. It is not. My limited point here is this: the Mission Coordination and Budgets Committee is not going to have the range, scope, or authority to make wholesale changes to what has already been proposed by the General Assembly Council. Look at the business and the numbers already posted -- and it will be close to what is recommended to the plenary.