The Business of Session 2019 started in earnest with the response to the new recommendations regarding Administrative and Departmental budgets.
In the current system, departments are resourced by ‘budgets’. The budget indicates the workload/salary, and therefore the involvement of the department’s Director.
The first proposal was to increase the number of budgets under which the SEC operates, from 16.5 to 19. Some commented on the financial cost of increasing this number, but the primary concern of delegates was its distribution. Many said that while some areas were allocated a full budget (i.e. 1 or 100%), some departments were under-resourced, with budgets of 0.25 or below.
Parliamentary Affairs & Religious Liberty (PARL), and the Children’s department were the two most widely discussed areas. PARL previously had no budget, but delegates voted to appoint a director with a budget of 0.5. They used the budget from the proposed, ‘Director for Children and Young people’ whose position was considered to be a duplication, that would merely create a new level of bureaucracy. The remaining 0.5 of the budget was then distributed to Personal Ministries.
A pointed comment, by one delegate, was that the budgets decided on a conference-wide level, did not preclude congregations using their own efforts and resources for local priorities.
The Recommendations Committee was then formed, with the responsibility of nominating all four standing committees (the Nominating Committee; Constitution Committee; Plans Committee; and the Credentials and Licenses Committee) appointed by Session. British Union Conference President, Pastor Ian Sweeny, acted as the Committee’s Chairman, and they left to carry out their role.
The President’s Report then followed. It was in the form of a video. It was a summary of the implementation of the theme for the last four years, ‘Evangelism Everyone Everywhere’, and the particular emphasis of each year: Revival in 2016, Restoration in 2017, Reclamation in 2018, and Retention in 2019. The strategy of making churches more relevant to their local communities was illustrated by various activities highlighted across the territories of the SEC. He also gave examples of the Church’s response to major crises including the Grenfell Tower fire, and the Finsbury Park Mosque attack.
After the President’s Report was accepted, he led discussions on the disconnect between our ‘traditional’ and contemporary churches and what the Church can do to help reverse the decline and foster growth among members of the majority population. It was recognised that although Church membership has grown, this has been as a result of immigration. Delegates were asked to share success stories of reaching out to the indigenous population.