Lay Leader Lines – September 2017

August 29th, 2017 by Kali Lewis


Q: Aren’t we supposed to receive a report on the Annual Conference proceedings each year? Maybe I missed it, but I don’t recall anybody giving a report on it. After all the fuss about how expensive it was going to be, I should think we would have heard more about it than we have.

A: You are correct. It is the responsibility of the lay representative to Annual Conference to give a report to the church, and so far I have not done so. I thought that this year, instead of giving a report in church, I would print it in the newsletter. This will be the first installment.

Instead of holding this year’s Annual Conference on a college or university campus, we met at a large resort near Traverse City. Adrian College, the traditional site for the Detroit Annual Conference, and Calvin College, where the West Michigan Conference often met, are simply not big enough to accommodate both the Detroit and West Michigan Conferences at the same time. Last year the two conferences met together at Michigan State University, which was easily able to accommodate them.  However, there was apparently some difficulty in working together with the University, which may not have been able to provide the flexibility desired by the Conferences, so an alternative site was sought for this year’s gathering. We were told that The Grand Traverse Resort, where we met, has never before accommodated a group this large, but for the most part the logistics went well. The Detroit and West Michigan Conferences have met together now for two years as work continues on forming a new conference out of these two conferences. The process is well underway, but will not completed for another few years. Much of the 2017 conference was devoted to reporting on the progress which has been made. Staff from both conferences are working well together in most areas. There are some areas which are taking longer to settle, however. For example, each conference has its own insurance, benefits package, budget, salary schedule, etc., and in some areas these differ significantly. It will take time to create one financial package which meets the needs of both conferences without significantly cutting benefits or increasing costs while bringing the different packages into agreement. District boundaries will be impacted as well, and it is anticipated that there may be at least one less district by the time everything is settled. One district is already being served by the district superintendents in the adjacent districts rather than having its own district superintendent, and it is likely that the districts affected will eventually be realigned to reduce the overall number of districts in that area. In the Detroit Conference some districts have been renamed to better reflect the areas they cover rather than         assigning them the name of the biggest city in the district. It is likely that the Marquette District will be less affected by redistricting than the other districts in the state, as it has the largest geographical area already, and is most bounded by the Great Lakes rather than adjacent land areas.

Also new this year was the presiding Bishop. David Bard, who replaces Bishop Deborah Kiesey, who retired for health reasons, is serving in his first position as a newly ordained bishop. He did a fine job of conducting his first annual conference as the leader of the sessions, and was able to easily handle the few glitches which occurred. He brings a warm, friendly, and less formal atmosphere to the                          conference than we have had in the past, while still being organized and accomplishing the work of the conference efficiently. (continued in the next newsletter)