Michigan Disciples Region to continue partnership exploration with Illinois/Wisconsin Region
It was a unanimous vote by the Michigan Disciples Regional board on Saturday, March 27, that we continue to explore with the Illinois/Wisconsin Region a new partnership in which both regions would be served by the same Regional Minister, even as we remained two regions. The plan was approved unanimously by the Illinois/Wisconsin Region Council. A final plan will be developed and if approved by both regions later this year, it will go into effect January 1, 2022.
Next steps include representatives from both regions continuing to explore common ministries and partnerships, being sure we in Michigan have a network of regional ministry support to interface with Regional Minister Teresa Dulyea-Parker. A current draft of four Regional Associate Ministers to serve congregations and clergy in four geographic areas of Michigan is under consideration by the Commission on Ministry. The Associate Ministers being proposed would be part-time ministers receiving a stipend for the ministry work.
Four Regional Associate Ministers projected to provide ministry connections
Approval was given to further developing a revised design of regional leadership. The Regional Board accepted a working profile description to move to part-time Regional Associate Ministers who would work closely with congregations, clergy, and part-time Regional Minister in four geographic areas of the state.
Regional Associates would be ordained or commissioned ministers, possibly retired clergy, with a financial stipend. They would replace our current Regional Elders, overseeing one of four geographic areas: North, West, Central, and Southeast. Flint area, Saginaw, Lansing, Muir, and Ionia would comprise a new Central Area, different than our present three districts.
Regional Associates who would provide regular connections and support with congregations and clergy, be the ongoing connection with the congregations in working closely with the part-time Regional Minister. The Regional Minister would continue to provide direct support to the churches for clergy placement, crisis/conflict management or clergy misconduct.
The Commission on Ministry will develop the plan further for approval at the July 17 Regional Board meeting.
Committee exploring sale or lease of Regional Office
Doug Morgan, Lansing, is heading a property committee as it considers the sale or lease of the Regional Office. The recommendation comes out of the year-long discernment study during 2020 leading to a decision to move to a part-time Regional Minister and moving to the sale or lease of the Regional Office. Preliminary conversations with First Christian Church, Lansing, has confirmed an openness to space being provided for the part time Administrative Assistance and document storage space. The committee is continuing to collect information for future decisions.
Michigan Disciples welcome two new congregations
One existing congregation plus a newly organized church, both located in Detroit, have been unanimously approved as part of the Michigan Disciples community of congregations.
Word Encounter Church was received as an affiliating congregation of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) Michigan Region. Steven Perry serves as pastor of the congregation. Kingdom Building Christian Church, under the direction of Organizing Pastor Vickie Wright has been accepted as a new congregation of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) Michigan Region.
Gwendolyn Pettway, chair of the Church Growth and Vitality Commission, presented the two congregations to the Board, having met all required conditions for affiliation with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).
2021-22 Vision and Priorities Approved
Approved by the Regional Board was a one year vision statement and four priorities:
- Discover and develop new ways to support, engage and strengthen our congregations, clergy and Region in a covenantal partnership, with the assistance of Regional Associate Ministers
- Commit to promoting unity in diversity through the work of anti-racism
- Develop educational opportunities, drawing upon gifts of clergy and lay leaders in the region and beyond
- Engage our congregations, members, and Region in a covenant of partnership by strengthening our communication and connection with each other.
2021 budget approved – 2022 proposed budget received
Sarah Beth Simonds submitted a revised 2021 Budget and a projected 2022 Budget which received approval from the Regional Board. Each reflects changes in anticipated income and expense. Simonds noted that our Disciples Mission Fund income from congregations shows a downward shift with direct giving from individual Michigan Disciples helping to mitigate the loss.
The 2021 budget reflects the conclusion of Eugene James interim service to the Ohio Region April 1, ending that extra income. On the expense side there is a savings in moving to a part-time Administrative Assistant. Projections show approximately a 26% decrease in income and a 21% decrease in expenses from 2020.
The preliminary 2022 budget is built on an assumption of approval of a Partnership with Illinois/Wisconsin Region, thus its temporary nature. There would be savings in moving from a full time Regional Minister to part time Regional Associates and paying a set services expense for part-time Regional Minister services provided by the Illinois/Wisconsin region. Projections show a 40.5% decrease in income and a 34% decrease in expenses from 2020.
The two budgets reflect the need to move toward a balanced budget for the Region in the coming few years.
Regional Assembly date moved to September 11
Regional Board members approved moving the annual Michigan Disciples Regional Assembly to September 11 this year, rather than the usual mid-May date. Eugene James explained this will allow more time for developing a proposal to enter a Partnership and shared Regional Minister with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) Illinois/Wisconsin Region.
The next Regional Board meeting will be July 17, to receive and act on all business items that will be considered at the Regional Assembly.
Memorial moment honors Rev. Dr Arnold Lakes
It was an emotional beginning to the Michigan Disciples Region Board meeting last Saturday, but very fitting and touching, as participants recognized the significant loss of their friend and Vice Moderator, the Rev. Dr. Arnold Lakes. Arnold passed away unexpectedly, February 1.
Rev. Eugene James, Regional Minister, struggling to share the words, called Board members to remember, “a husband, father, grandfather, pastor, vice-moderator, and a close friend. This is how I remember Pastor Arnold Lakes,” James noted. “A man deeply committed to God, his family, his ministry and supporting his colleagues. We all were blessed by his work, his presence, his faithfulness, his sense of humor … and we thank God for his time among us,” he added.
Eugene called us to let our prayers surround his widow, Pastor Angelete Lakes, her family and the members of New Covenant Christian Church for strength, comfort and peace. May he rest in peace.