Your frequently asked questions about the creation of a new conference in Michigan
What is the vision of the new Michigan Conference?
The Michigan Conference will equip and connect through:
- Christ Centered Mission and Ministry
- Bold Effective Leaders
- Vital Congregations
This vision identifies what the Michigan Conference wants to be known for across the state. This vision will help inform strategies, align resources, make decisions and evaluate ministry.
How will this new conference benefit the local church?
Local church development and growth is central in the vision for a new Michigan Conference. The structure calls the new conference to equip and connect resources for the local church to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the Transformation of the world. In coming together, a single Michigan conference will offer many advantages including creating a larger clergy leadership pool for pastoral deployment. That will improve matches of pastoral gifts with local congregations’ and community needs. A single conference staffing and structure model will expand leadership development and focus on congregational vibrancy, add new continuing education opportunities and expand Christ centered mission and ministry.
Will this save money for the local church?
A huge swing in savings or increases for local congregations supporting the annual conference is not anticipated. Representatives from the Detroit and West Michigan Councils on Finance and Administration (CFA) are working together to develop proposals for a common set of financial policies and an area apportionment formula. If approved, the formula will be referred to as, “Ministry Shares,” a term that represents our vision of sharing in global ministry together.
What will happen to our District Structure and our District Superintendent?
The size and number of districts is still being determined. A task force of Design Team & Cabinet members is working with the Bishop to develop a re-districting proposal to be presented at the 2017 Annual Conference. The proposal will focus on how to create district structures that can meet the vision for vibrant congregations and bold and effective clergy and lay leadership, and also fulfill requirements of the Book of Discipline and various Judicial Council Decisions.
Will there be more or fewer staff at the conference office?
That too is still being determined. The Design Team will be evaluating how many staff are needed to achieve our vision and mission goals, balanced with available funding. For this reason there may be reductions in some areas of ministry and increases in others.
Will there be any changes in health care and pensions?
We encourage you to carefully read the vision of the Board of Pension and Health Benefits. These can be found in the resource section of Design.MichiganUMC.org. Follow this link to read more about health care and pensions.
Will “our” conference be taken over by “their” conference?
This is an understandable concern that is expressed equally by members of both annual conferences. By design, we are creating one new conference and not simply merging together. For over a year, the Design Team and many boards and agencies have already been working collaboratively to the point that it is sometimes difficult to identify which conference leaders come from. Those already working in blended groups have discovered the joy and strength of working together.
Will nominations balance West Michigan and Detroit members in every leadership area?
A conference balance quota system is not being proposed. Each conference brings gifted and faithful people, ministries and missions to the table. We will look to align these unique strengths to help us live out our vision. While some areas may appear to have more representation from one conference or the other, the Michigan Conference overall will end up in a balance of leadership.
What will happen to our conference missions?
Christ centered mission and ministry is one of the three key areas of our vision. The Area Board of Global Ministries team is working together to develop plans for connectional giving and mission support. We continue to encourage missions now being primarily supported with apportioned dollars to more extensively develop support at the local congregation and district levels.
Are you going to close any camps?
The Michigan Area Camping Ministries (MACM) Board of Directors has placed a moratorium on the closing of any camp for the next two years, provided they operate without financial loss. The 2016 summer camping season saw an increase of more than 5% in overnight week-long and half-week campers. It is important to note that in January 2017, MACM will become a separately incorporated affiliated organization. The Michigan Conference will continue to guide this organization through the election of seats held for United Methodist board members that represent a majority of the board.
Will the Annual Conference session continue to get more expensive in the future?
The Annual Conference program committee is extremely sensitive to the need to keep down costs for this yearly gathering. There are some savings in overall operation because only one conference session is being held each year. The expense to pastors and lay members may shift slightly given the increase in travel distances for some and the need to hold this event at a convention site that is able to host conferences of more than 2,000 persons and accommodate some of the unique requirements of our Conference’s activities and members.
How can I share my opinion on what is being proposed?
The Design Team welcomes your thoughts, ideas, dreams, criticism and comments on every proposal for the new Michigan Conference. You are encouraged to attend one of the many public listening sessions being held across the state or to contact Design Team members here.