by Dan McGrath / September 30, 2018
Today delegates of the Michigan Conference met for the 33rd Constituency meeting. Over 515 delegates gathered from around the state to participate in the administrative process that takes place every five years.
The marathon day began with a worship service consisting of singing, preaching, and prayer. Elder Jim Micheff shared a message from the book of Jonah impressing on delegates that supreme love for God is the most important quality we can have and coincidentally, the one quality Jonah lacked.
The meeting was officially called to order and the reporting began with the news that over the quinquennium, three new churches - Brighton, Cadillac 13th St., and Kalamazoo-Spanish - were added to the field. Over the same period of time, one church disbanded and two others merged.
Union President, Maurice Valentine, shared the process the organizing committee adhered to the previous day when choosing the nominating committee. The bylaws state there should be a balance between lay members and church employees. Twenty people were chosen to sit on the nominating committee. It was made up of 12 lay members and eight employees. Discussion took place around the makeup of the committee, and delegates noted the need for both ethnic and age diversity and the fact that four individuals chosen as lay members were former pastors. For four of the individuals, this was their second time serving on the quinquennial nominating committee.
The meeting continued with the President’s report. Jim Micheff shared an update about Good News Farm, which is no longer run by the Conference, but by a third party. While over 230 students worked on the farm and continue to do so, the farm was never able to generate an additional source of income. The good news is that there is no debt from the farm, and it continues to be a place where students can learn principles of agriculture.
The president continued sharing about the new and old conference office buildings. While the old building is still unsold, there is solid interest from a Lansing entity that is willing to purchase the building at the asking price pending inspection and appraisal. The new building is now occupied by Conference personnel but has a considerable amount of debt attached to it. However, with the sale of the old office building and some donations coming in, they hope to cut the debt in half within a short period of time.
In the treasurer’s report, Leroy Bruch shared the good news that tithe increased by 9.71% between 2013 and 2018. While tithe is up, local church offering is down and the average person gives about 5.08% of their income. World Mission Offering has also decreased by 6.2%. Yet there was an increase of 6.2% in offerings given to Michigan Advance Partners (MAP) which helps to fund churches and schools and various initiatives around the state.
Delegates were given the chance to vote on the administrative leadership. Jim Micheff was elected as president to continue the job God called him to five months prior. Justin Ringstaff was voted in as the executive secretary, and the constituency welcomed Michael Bernard to follow retiring treasurer Leroy Bruch.
The bylaws committee shared their report and there was considerable discussion about the nomination process. Some wished the nominating process could be removed from the constituency session. The committee studied four other union conferences (constituting 20+ conferences) where the nominating committees meet before the constituency session to nominate their officers. They found that their process was more susceptible to political plays and social media windstorms, so it was the committee’s recommendation to leave the process alone and continue to nominate the same day as the constituency meeting.
The nominating committee worked throughout the day to nominate the remainder of the department leaders. When they returned there were no changes to the departmental directors. In the end, everyone was thankful to end the long proceedings knowing that Jesus is in charge of His church.
Departmental directors/leaders listed below (both voted & otherwise):
- ASI: Justin Ringstaff
- Education: Jeremy Hall
- Human Resources: Laura Im
- Ministerial: Royce Snyman
- ABC: Tim Castanon
- Communications: Andy Im
- Trust Services/Stewardship: Joel Nephew
- Sabbath School/Personal Ministries: Kameron DeVasher
- ACS/DR: Diana Bruch
- Family Ministries: Gail Micheff
- Health Ministries: Vicki Griffin
- Publishing: Kamil Metz
- Public Campus Ministries: Israel Ramos
- Women's Ministries: Jane Harris
- Youth: Ken Micheff
- Pathfinders/Adventurers: Craig Harris
- Children's Ministries: Linda Gallimore
Daniel McGrath serves as pastor for the Sparta and Three Angels Fellowship Seventh-day Adventist churches. He is passionate about public campus ministry and discipleship. He and his wife Isai enjoy spending time with their son, Ian, being outside, sailing and scuba diving.