Rethink Conference Q. & A. from Bishop Johnson

Reducing the size and refocusing resources to support churches in making disciples for Jesus Christ for the transformation of the World

Last Saturday a group of lay and clergy of EPA met to further brain-storm about the rethinking of the structure and staffing models for the EPA Conference.   There was much helpful conversation and some questions that I would like to address here:

Q: Has the restructuring already been decided?

A: No, the process is happening on a local level with a survey, on a conference level with committee discussions and town hall meetings and ultimately the decision about our goals, structure and staffing will happen at Annual Conference (May 20-22). The budget for 2011 will be crafted after the May Annual Conference votes on the direction the conference wants to go. At an Adjourned Session of annual conference on Sat. November 13th we will decide on the budget.

Q: What are the concerns driving us to restructure?

A: Rising costs and less money in our churches to pay due to the recession and declining church memberships, a need to have some reserves, the rising cost of health care, and the need to update the way we do business to meet the needs of a new world.

Q: What about the shortfall in the pension fund?

A: We need to raise $1.2 million dollars for the unfunded liability. The market decline in 2008 reduced the funding ratio. It took away some of the working capital that was funding our pensions. We need to raise money to get the pension back to where it was before the market crisis of 2008.

Q: What is happening with the health insurance premium? Can this be reduced? $17,000 is a great deal of money for one insurance premium plus the pastors are paying a lot out of their salaries as well.

A: Currently the Board of Pensions and Health Benefits is working on a new plan and some of that will be presented at the Town Hall meetings. It will be voted at the November Adjourned session.

Q: If we are cutting positions at the conference center and cutting program money when will that take place?

A: In the beginning of 2011 we will begin to transition into our new plan that will be voted on at Annual Conference and at the Adjourned session. May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing. Romans 15:12 Bishop Peggy A. Johnson The United Methodist Church Philadelphia Area (Eastern Pennsylvania Conference and Peninsula-Delaware Conference)