AC 2017 will act on 180 pages of legislation. Here’s how business will be ordered.
Senior Editor-Writer, Michigan Area
The legislative slate for the 2017 Michigan Annual Conference includes 42 items. Some of them are perennial … the passing of budgets, the election of leaders. But others of them are more historic in nature. Those items will help give birth to a new creation … the Michigan Conference … anticipated January 1, 2019.
There will be those gathered in Governors’ Hall on June 1 remembering the event held at the Lansing Civic Center in 2008. At that time a motion to combine Michigan’s two annual conferences did not pass. Nine years later, it is important to be aware that just as the lead-up to the 2008 vote was different than the two-year journey to the 2017 vote, so will be the process on the plenary floor.
The legislation (which includes motions coming before the Detroit Conference, the West Michigan Conference, the Michigan Area as well as five Constitutional Amendments coming from General Conference) takes up 181 pages.
A very helpful “Legislation Process Summary,” can be found on pages 189-190 of the 2017 Legislation booklet. The summary statement begins, “A lot of work has been done to help us participate in an effective and meaningful session under one set of rules and processes.”
The processes were crafted with care by the Annual Conference Program Committee in conversation and collaboration with Bishop David Bard, the Area Cabinet and the Michigan Conference Design Team. The Rules of Order Committee of the West Michigan Conference and Detroit Conference Committee on Reference and Daily Procedure were also part of the consultation on the flow of decision making.
Unlike 2016 when Detroit Conference members and West Michigan members experienced separate plenary sessions, the members of both Conferences will be seated together throughout the 2017 session. Voting … sometimes one conference, sometimes the other, sometimes all … will be governed by the use of colored cards.
Members will be assigned to 12 Legislative Committees, varying in size according to the task at hand. All committees will be blended, both Detroit and West Michigan members.
One-Conference Policies and Structure and Re-Districting proposals will be discussed in Legislative Committees but not acted upon. Once introduced on floor of the plenary, all will be open for debate and amendment as necessary.
Approximately eight hours will be given to legislation (committee work and plenary).
- Thursday Evening: Adoption of the Rules of Order; Presentation by Pension and Health Benefits with vote on a number of Pension-Health related items that require annual action.
- Friday: Legislative Committees meet. All Committees will review #2 Structure and #3 Re-districting with Design Team members present in each committee. Each committee will also be assigned additional resolutions/petitions. Conference members will receive the Legislative Committee Summary Report at 5:30 pm Friday.
- Saturday: Vote on 1) Constitutional Amendments; 2) Structure of Michigan Conference; 3)Re-districting; 4) CFA policies for new conference; 5) Retirement Plan and Health Care Plan; 6) combined in one motion are policies regarding Human Resources, Parsonage guidelines, Flexible Housing policy, Clergy Sexual Ethics, Protection of Children, Youth and Vulnerable Adults; and 7) Nominations Report for each conference
There are additional items of business coming to AC 2017. It is the hope of those setting the legislative agenda that Conference members “will take swift action on the more routine and common items, so that committee and plenary time will be available for more thorough discussion on items of unique and compelling interest in this transition year.”
MIConnect asked the Rev. Benton Heisler for comment. Heisler has worked with both the Design Team and the Program Committee on preparations for AC 2017. He said, “If we can hold off some of the minor tinkering until another year that will help us keep the focus on what really is new.”
Heisler also reminds Conference members that,” This is not a once-and-done moment. There will be other Annual Conferences. From year to year we will be able to improve upon what we adopt this year.”