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Conference Culture Task Force Update

by | Mar 8, 2022 | Annual Conference Sessions Committee

At our 2021 Annual Conference, we passed legislation that created a Conference Culture Task Force to address the current culture of fear and harm that we have in our Annual Conference. This task force began its work in October of 2021 after the transition to our new bishop, Bishop Grant Hagiya. Per the legislation, the members of the task force include:

Bishop Grant Hagiya, Resident Bishop
Rev. Susan Brims, East District Superintendent
Rev. Anthony Tang, elected by petitioners of the resolution
Rev. Joshua Warner, elected by petitioners of the resolution
Terri Wicker, Lay person with HR experience
Deb Browning, Chair, Committee on the Status and Role of Women
Rev. Khalif Smith, Chair, Committee on Religion and Race
Rev. Melissa Rynders, Chair, Board of Ordained Ministry, chair of the Conference Culture Task Force
Pastor Wendy Swanson, Local Pastor representative

We know several of these team members will be changing coming July 1, 2022, because of changes in appointments, and will keep you updated as to how those changes affect the makeup of this team.

In our work together we have begun to build trust amongst ourselves so that our work can be authentic and honest and help us in creating that same trust amongst our clergy, laity, and churches. Part of our work together has led us to realize we need one more lay person to balance out our team and that that person should be from the West District. We are in the process of discerning and figuring out who that lay person will be.

As we have been working together to build trust we have also contracted to work with the General Council of Finance and Administration(GCFA), to audit our current system, policies, and procedures, in regards to how our system functions and works to protect and uplift our clergy, laity, and churches. Caitlin Congdon, Chief Officer of Human Resources and Professional Development for GCFA, is working with us to gather and evaluate the information around our current system. Over the next few months, you may receive surveys from our team, requests to meet with Caitlin, in small groups or one-on-one, to help her understand the current system and be able to recommend changes to help heal our culture.

As we receive the report from GCFA and work together as a task force to evaluate our current practices and the suggested changes, we will begin to create policies and procedures that address the cultural issues we have. We will do our best to update you on how the process is going as things begin to happen.

Again, look for opportunities to share your thoughts and stories through surveys and meeting requests to begin coming. If you have any questions you can reach out to me, as the chair of the task force, or anyone else on the team for more information and clarification.

Thank you for trusting us with this incredible task of working to create trust among us and heal the broken culture in our conference.

Grace and Peace,

Melissa

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