The Greater New Jersey Annual Conference made an aggressive response to the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy. To do it required many decisions be made between annual conference sessions to line up strategy, funding, and staff to meet the emergencies caused by the storm. Building on a conference committee already in place and collaborating with the Conference Council on Finance and Administration, the new program was implemented. News reports in church media indicate the plan’s impact has been positive and significant if inadequate compared to what could be done by an open and effective governmental program.
When the procedures followed to set up the plan and the plan itself were dealt with, most of its action had to be passed after the fact. The Annual Conference plenary supported the whole thing.
Questions were brought related to possible violations of the Discipline about the handling of finances, staffing, and shifting or responsibilities between Annual Conferences. The bishop realized after conference that the submitted questions were not just discussion concerns but requests for rulings. Because there had been no motion from the floor (see JCD 1244) to send them on the Council, he held back dealing with them until he realized that no matter what, a response from him was required, after which he complied. His late response generated an amicus brief and he was allowed to respond to that as well prior to the Fall session of the Council.
In his response, he concurred that there were violations of the Discipline regarding the interim reallocation of funds but he found no violation in the other interim shifts. The Council concurred. I’m sure that the emergency nature of Hurricane Sandy influenced nearly everyone in the conference and on the Council to support the steps actually taken (no sanctions were provided by the Council for the reallocation of funds).
A dissenting opinion was not as flexible, even though the dissenter’s home conference has experienced hurricanes as well, including a superstorm this week. However, his point is that the conference may have set in place far more flexibility than the Discipline allows with respect to future functioning of the new policies set up under emergency situations. The dissenter’s warning will need to be heeded by watchdogs in the conference. If someone gets an undue advantage, they will take it.