Wednesday, January 04, 2006

PSW Sets Rule for Separation Vote

An email was sent out this afternoon to the PSW church list giving the basics of the vote to be conducted April 29. Here's the scoop:

Special Meeting of the Region - April 29, 2006

Information Your Church Needs to Know Beforehand

Information Meetings - Prior to the April 29, 2006 Meeting

The Executive Minister will hold a series of Informational Meetings for pastors, church leaders and interested members in various locations around the Region in February. Information will be shared regarding the recommendation of the ABCPSW Board of Directors including reasons for the action, the process by which the decision will be made, and the future of the ABCPSW as a Region not in Covenant with the ABCUSA.

What Should Churches Consider Doing Before April 29, 2006?

Churches should review the documents that may define their relationship with the ABCUSA and/or the ABCPSW. These include:

Articles of Incorporation.
Church Bylaws or Constitutions.
Other documents that deal with the operation and governance of the church.

There are numerous situations in which a church's relationship with the ABCUSA and/or the ABCPSW is pivotal to a property or financial transaction. Often legal documents state that a loan or actual ownership of a property is conditioned on the church continuing in affiliation with the ABCUSA. For this reason, we recommend that churches review documents for reference to the ABCUSA including:

Loan Agreements and Promissory notes, including loans from ABCPSW, the ABCUSA, another ABC congregation or the American Baptist Extension Corporation.
Trust Deeds
Deeds and related title documents
Property Trust Agreements
Property use agreements
Church or pastor support agreements
Employment agreements
Property purchase agreements or option to purchase agreements
Personal property trust agreements (for example, gifts of cash or property in a special fund or trust for the support of a church program)

In addition, churches may have entered into gift annuities, charitable remainder or charitable lead trusts, or similar arrangements with church members providing for payments. These should be reviewed to ascertain whether there are terms or conditions requiring affiliation with the ABCUSA.
This is not an exhaustive list, but one intended to encourage you to review potentially important documents before taking actions. All documents that refer to the relationship between a church and the ABCUSA and/or the ABCPSW should be reviewed for their effect on both parties, and to determine steps that should be taken to avoid problems.

If your review brings to light a situation that may be impacted by your church's decision, we urge you to consult with legal counsel for guidance on steps you should take to resolve the situation.

In addition to a church's own records and archives, copies or originals of many church legal documents are on file at the ABCPSW Church Resource Center.

The Special Meeting of the Region - April 29, 2006

The bylaws of the ABCPSW do not provide for meetings of the Region other than at the Annual Conference. However, under the California law that deals with non-profit corporations, such a meeting is permitted. The meeting will be run according to the following rules:

Churches will hold meetings in accordance with their own bylaws to determine how their delegates to the Regional meeting will vote on the issue.

Nature and Purpose of the Meeting of the Region.

Both the Covenant of Relationships of the ABCUSA and the Bylaws of the ABCPSW authorize the Region Board of Directors to make decisions regarding the adoption, amendment or termination of any covenant to which the Region is party (Article 6, Section 2, E). In final analysis, the Region Board of Directors must make the final decision regarding whether to withdraw from the Covenant of Relationships with the ABCUSA. The purpose of the Meeting of Delegates from the Churches is for the Board to receive an expression of the will of the Delegates to provide the Board with the input it needs to make a responsible and informed decision. Following vote, the Board of Directors must meet to take appropriate action based on the vote by church delegates.

The recommendation approved by the Region Board must clearly state this purpose of the meeting.

The meeting will be held simultaneously at five sites: First Baptist Church of Pomona and sites to be selected in Phoenix, Las Vegas, Hawaii, and on the Hopi Reservation. In order for this to happen:

a) Everyone at every site must be able to hear both what is being said at the podium at the main site (Pomona) and questions or comments made by delegates at all sites;
b) There must be opportunity for questions for clarification of the issue before the body. Because informational meetings will be held in various locations throughout the Region prior to the Meeting of the Region, the Board may rule that there will be no discussion or debate at this meeting,
c) A member of the Board of Directors should preside at each location,
d) The President of the Region will lead the meeting from Pomona. The role of Board members presiding at distant locations will be to expedite arrangements so each location follows directions from the President,
e) Ballots will be counted at all sites. The President will call for results from all sites, which will be announced and tallied. The President will then announce the total vote.

Each church will be assigned a number of delegates in accordance with the bylaws of the ABCPSW, Article 4. Each Cooperating and Affiliated Church may elect from its membership: (1) five (5) Delegates;(2) one (1) additional Delegate for every one-hundred (100) members of such Church in excess of the first fifty-one (51) members;(3) one (1) additional Delegate if such Church's per capita giving to the American Baptist United Mission Basics (or any successor thereto) in the calendar year preceding the Regional Annual Conference equaled $30, plus one (1) additional Delegate for each whole number multiple of $10 of such per capita giving in excess of $30 in such year; (4) one (1) additional Delegate for each whole number multiple of $3,000 of such Church's total giving to the American Baptist United Mission Basics ** (or any successor thereto) in the calendar yearpreceding the Conference; and (5) In addition to the foregoing, the Senior Pastor of any Cooperating or Affiliated Church may serve as a Delegate. (Note: When the ABCPSW is meeting in regard to issues related ABCUSA, Affiliated Churches will not be able to participate in any discussion or decision relative to these issues.)** The equivalent to United Missions Basics in the Flexible Stewardship Plan is the sum of Lines A1 (ABCPSW Ministries); A2 (International Ministries); A3 (National Ministries); and B (United Mission Option).

The ABCPSW Bylaws indicate that persons named by churches as delegates to a meeting of the Region must be registered in advance with the Executive Minister. For the purpose of this meeting, Delegate Registration must take place not later than one week before the scheduled meeting and should indicate the site that will be attended by church delegates. Lists of Delegates will be available at each site on the day of the meeting. As delegates arrive, they will register and receive printed ballots for use in the meeting.

6) Because the purpose of this vote is to provide the Board of Directors with a clear expression of the will of the Delegates from churches, there will be no delegates representing Associations. Furthermore, members of the Regional Board of Directors will not be delegates, unless they are so registered as delegates from churches.

What is a Cooperating Church?

All Cooperating Churches in the ABCPSW are eligible to vote. A cooperating church holds membership in both ABCPSW and the ABCUSA.

Who is not eligible to vote? Churches that have already withdrawn from the ABCUSA are Affiliated Members with the ABCPSW and therefore cannot vote on issues relating to the Region's participation in the ABCUSA. New church plants that have not applied and been accepted into full membership in the Region (new church plants are not eligible to apply for full membership in the region until at least three years from date of launch, reach sustainability, are incorporated, and are recommended by their association).

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