The Spirit in worship was palpable. The music moving. The discussion respectful even in disagreement. The education invigorating and horizon-expanding.
The 2015 General Assembly was, according to many on social media and anecdotally, a success in all ways save one. Attendance.
Associate General Minister and Vice President Todd Adams says, “The funding model we have been using is not sustainable at this level of attendance. We need some time to rethink how the General Assembly meets.”
To that end, the Time and Place resolution (GA 1532) was referred to the Administrative Committee rather than make a commitment to the dates projected for the 2019 event.
Registration (85%) and exhibitor fees (15%) fund the event. The General Assembly budget includes speaker fees and travel, the production company, registration systems and fees, instrument rental, children’s programs, youth activities and a portion of the assembly staff. A rebate from the contracted hotels helps offset a portion of the convention center rental fees. The funding is a complex partnership with the host city and hotels. If there are fewer registrants, not only is the income reduced but the event becomes less attractive to exhibitors. The 2015 event was budgeted based on 4,200 attendees, about 400 more than our actual attendance, leaving a probable deficit of about $80,000. Continuing on this trajectory threatens the financial viability of the Office of General Minister and President.
In addition, another resolution (GA 1537) was adopted that calls for specific guidelines on where Disciples hold meetings of 25 or more people. This will guide meeting planning staff on matters of justice, recognizing the economic impact of the assembly. Watch Disciples News Service for more as discussions progress. You can subscribe to the weekly e-letter at http://disciples.org/dns