News & Announcements

Report of the General Council Fall 2021 Meeting

Written by Karen Conger, Recording Secretary

Members of General Council and ExCom meeting over Zoom (beginning at the top left): Rev. Jane Siebert, Rev. Dr. Jim Lawrence, Kurt Fekete, Jennifer Lindsay, Karen Conger, Rev. Susannah Currie, Brittany Price, Rev. Betsy Coffman, Beki Greenwood, Rev. Jenny Caughman, Barb Halle, Herb Ziegler, Rev. Thom Muller, Stan Conger, Susan Hulcher, and Tom Murphy.

The General Council met for its fall session via Zoom on Friday, November 5 and Saturday, November 6. We had hoped to be able to meet in person but given the effects of the continuing pandemic, that plan was reluctantly scrapped.
Reports were received from the officers and all the standing committees. In addition, the Council was updated on the progress of the website redesign, which is in process under the guidance of the project facilitator, Ben Phinney, along with members of the Website Committee: Holly Bauer (Standing Committee for Communication and Information), Beki Greenwood (Messenger), Brittany Price (Central Office), Rev. Shada Sullivan (Council of Ministers), Rev. Thom Muller (Our Daily Bread), and Rev. Cory Coberforward (Online).
The Convention 2022 Planning Committee has begun their meetings: Amanda Riley, Jonathan Mitchell, Dave Brown, Robert McCluskey, Dan Burchett, Jae Chung, Jane Siebert, Susannah Currie, Kurt Fekete, Brittany Price, Ros Taylor, Jim Lawrence, Jennifer Lindsay, and Karen Conger. The host churches are The Garden Church in San Pedro, California, Wayfarers Chapel in Rancho Palos Verdes, California, and Agapao Church in Orange County, California. The plans are for ministers to meet June 23–24, with convention officially opening the evening of June 25 and continuing through the evening of June 28. The current plan is that portions of convention will be available online. Stay tuned for details as they become available.
The 2020 audit was presented to the General Council, and everything is in order for our financial records thanks to the work of Gina Peracchi and Jennifer Lindsay. 2021 financials are coming in strong due to the PPP loan (which was duly forgiven) and lack of committee travel. The Common Fund investments increased by 9.6% this year and the payout rate was increased by the Investment Committee for 2022. This will help all our church and association investors in 2022. The proposed budget for next year was passed with a surplus.
The General Council members each have three to four ministries that they stay in touch with during the year, and these reports were delivered at the meeting. The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted our churches and camps, and these effects will continue to reverberate for an unknown period as 2021 closes and 2022 begins. Because of lowered expenses, due to having no in person meetings, the denomination, with donations from various people and ministries, has been able to extend financial aid to our ministries, to individuals in the Church, and to our three camps. Thanks be to God.
Kit Billings chair of the Committee on Admission to the Ministry, joined the General Council for an extended review and discussion on the Licensed Pastor Program. President Jane Siebert was directed to appoint an ad hoc committee to move forward on considerations from the General Council and other issues, including the Council of Ministers’ constituency.
Treasurer Jennifer Lindsay presented the draft of a conflict of interest statement. After lengthy and valuable discussion, the Conflict of Interest Statement was so adopted. Going forward this document will be signed by all General Council members annually at the post-convention meeting; also, by all employees, members of the Investment Committee, the Committee on the Building Fund, and the Standing Committee for Financial Accountability. This document will be shared with all ministries and associations for their consideration to adopt.
The General Council will meet again in the Spring of 2022.

Read the full issue of the December 2021 Messenger

Meet Karen Conger

Karen Conger lives in California with her husband Stanand her cat Marms. She is the recording secretary of the Swedenborgian Church of North America.