As with any process of the magnitude of creating a new conference out of two, there are a number of questions and issues that cannot be addressed in a short period of time, but must be looked at with the long view. For example, the Discernment Teams that researched certain administrative areas gathered information about our real estate assets, investments, pensions and benefits, and our relationship to our institutions. Due to legal and fiduciary responsibilities, the major decisions in these areas will need to be made over time after extensive legal and professional consultations.
While the goal of developing equitable eligibility and maintaining current levels of benefits is central to our work, the actuarial, financial, and fiduciary details must be worked out in consultation with those who are trained, equipped and licensed to give appropriate advice to the leaders of the conference. Utilization and continuation of real estate assets requires detailed assessment and missional prioritization to inform ultimate distribution, allocation, or dissolution compatible with the mission of the church, conference, and its agencies.
While several Discernment Teams made similar recommendations on the structure of our organization in a new conference, the actual detail needs concentrated thought and discussion in light of our mission. This discussion by its nature must take place in a collaborative way at the congregational level with some general guidance by actions of the annual conference. While a time frame needs to be set, it must also take into account the localized nature of ministry of congregations, and the relationships congregations have with each other through their laity.