This year, anyone holding a national conference license was a voting delegate at the US National Conference. Not so in 2011. A new provision cuts out unassigned and retired ministers. The new Paragraph 503.1, “Clergy Representation,” says:
Voting members. Ministers are eligible to serve as voting members if they meet both of these conditions:
1. They hold a specialized Ministry license, a national conference license, or are ordained elders in the United Brethren church.
2, At the time of the National Conference, they meet one of these criteria:
a. Are employed by a United Brethren church in the US National Conference.
b. Serve the national conference in an appointed or elected position.
c. Hold a leadership position in a non-United Brethren ministry recognized by the Executive Leadership Team. Persons desiring this recognition must send a letter to the bishop requesting such recognition.
This subject sparked the only major debate on the conference floor. There were two main issues:
- There was strong sentiment for allowing all national conference ministers to be voting delegates, whether they were actively serving or not.
- What about United Brethren ministers who serve in the broader Kingdom in other organizations, and who value their UB connections? The two main examples given were missionaries Dave Datema and Roger Skinner, both of whom are ordained but serve fulltime in mission organizations.
It would be impossible to write a Discipline statement covering every possible organization. Point C addressed that by letting the Executive Leadership Team be the filter. If Dave Datema and Roger Skinner (and others) want to be voting members in 2011, they merely need to send a letter to the bishop with that request. He’ll take the request to the ELT, which can grant or deny the request.
After considerable discussion, this entire debate was deferred until after lunch, so that a small group of people could formulate a statement, rather than try to write one on the conference floor. What they came up with is what passed by a considerable margin. There was much, much further discussion, and unsuccessful attempts at several amendments, but the statement above ultimately passed as presented.