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Allegheny West Delegates Vote Officers, Face Tough Numbers
Story by Taashi Rowe
Delegates elected William T. Cox Sr., president; Marvin Brown, executive secretary; and Zenobia Seward, treasurer.
Yesterday at the Allegheny West Conference’s Third Quadrennial Constituency Session, some 220 delegates gathered at the Ephesus church in Columbus, Ohio, and elected William T. Cox, president; Marvin Brown, executive secretary; and Zenobia Seward, treasurer. Cox was re-elected after serving 17 months as president; Seward after 12 years as treasurer. Brown previously headed the conference’s Ministerial Association, Stewardship Ministries and Trust Services.
“I’m humbled by the fact that, as a group, you are allowing us to serve in this capacity,” Cox said. “It is time to be about our Father’s business.”
In his President’s Report, Cox addressed some of the challenges facing the small conference. Among them is a preliminary budget deficit of nearly half a million dollars. He noted that a financial taskforce uncovered that the deficit began in 2009 after a $400,000 influx in monies earmarked for a special evangelism effort. (A corresponding increase in membership also followed). “It was one of the greatest increases in Allegheny West Conference history,” Cox said. Thinking the increases would be sustainable thereafter; conference leaders expanded their budget to match expected increases. However, 2010 and 2011 brought flat tithe.
In order to reduce the deficit, the financial taskforce recommended several actions, including reducing the conference office workforce. Cox said conference leaders implemented many of the recommendations, and although in 2012 the conference suffered a $123,000 loss in tithe, they had a $150,000 increase in their working capital. Cox also recognized churches that had significant tithe increases in 2012: the Shiloh church in Cincinnati, Ohio; the Smyrna and Appomattox churches in Lynchburg, Va.; the New Hope church in Canton, Ohio; and Ethan Temple in Dayton, Ohio.
Although the quadrennium covered 2008 to 2012, Cox focused heavily on 2012. He noted that the conference, which has an estimated membership of some 12,231 members, had 286 baptisms that year. He also noted that some 33 churches had none or very low baptisms. He then encouraged delegates to take evangelism more seriously. “Nobody wants what you have, if what you have is not working for you,” Cox admonished. “If you think you can finish the work without lifestyle evangelism, then you are deluding yourself. … Jesus can’t come anywhere until the gospel is spread everywhere.”
Cox also noted that while the conference was not growing as fast as he’d like, he was pleased to see that the church had grown in diversity. Due to the efforts of Walter Castro, director of Multicultural Ministries and church planting, 10 churches were planted during in the quadrennium, three in 2012. The conference now boasts 52 English-speaking churches, seven Spanish-speaking churches, two Korean churches and two Haitian churches. However, right before the constituency session, Castro accepted a call to the Florida Conference.
Education also was a bright spot. The conference’s two schools have seen record enrollments. Columbus Adventist Academy in Columbus has 105 students and Ramah Junior Academy in Cleveland has 88.
In outlining his plans for the conference’s future, Cox discussed infrastructure development and professional development for clergy and making evangelism their number-one priority. He also shared the conference theme for 2012: “We are a FAMILY,” with the acronym standing for faith, acceptance, mission, integrity, love and you.
Robert Moore, who served as executive secretary in the previous quadrennium and presented the secretary’s report for the session, focused on efforts made to train church clerks to input membership records into the eAdventist system. He reported that there are now 8,000 members in the system.
He then welcomed four new churches that joined the conference during the past quadrennium: Erie Temple in Erie, Pa.; Beacon of Hope in Columbus; Bethesda Haitian church in Roanoke, Va.; and Ohio Philadelphie Haitian church in Columbus. Additionally, delegates voted to close the Beckley and Kimball churches, both in West Virginia.
Moore also spoke about the conference’s relatively low rate of baptism. He compared the conference’s high point for the quadrennium, 498 accessions in 2009, to when baptisms averaged around 206 accessions in 2012. He noted that many of the conference’s churches have memberships of 50 and below. “We are not growing fast enough to avoid museum status,” he said. “Not many of our churches are growing. In fact, many are decreasing.” He warned that without growth, the conference will face a financial crisis. However, he was hopeful. “We have to sustain active evangelism, and with clergy and laity working together, God will bless us,” he said.
In the treasurer’s report, which she titled “State of the Plate,” Seward reported that the conference has taken in $27 million over the past four years and detailed how the monies were spent.
In addition to listening to reports and electing officers, delegates also considered some changes to their constitution. The bylaws committee recommended that all officers and department heads be limited to two full terms of service, a total of eight years in their position. Delegates defeated the measure. Despite a motion made from the floor to dissolve all term limits, they did, however, leave in place a current bylaw that limits the president to two terms. They also voted to include a position on the executive committee for one young adult and one multicultural representative.
Delegates also voted in the following department heads:
|Jerome Hurst||Community Services|
|Sharon Bowen||Disability Ministries|
|Yvette Cooper||Education, Singles Ministries and Health Ministries|
|Lloydston Burton||Family Ministries|
|Kenneth Washington||Personal Ministries and Message magazine|
|Colin Parkinson||Prayer Ministries|
|Melvin Mitchell||Prison Ministries|
|Jack McCrary||Stewardship, Wills and Trust, and Campground|
|Danny Milton||Religious Liberty|
|Joel Johnson||Youth Ministries, Pathfinders, Adventurers|
|Allen Baldwin||Men’s Ministries, Children’s Ministries, Sabbath School|
|Shirley Benton||Women’s Ministries|
|Carl Rogers||Sensational Seniors|
|Multicultural Ministries||To be determined by executive committee (TBD)|
|Young Adult Ministries||TBD|
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