GA-1911

GA-1911

HIGHER EDUCATION AND LEADERSHIP MINISTRIES
REPORT TO THE GENERAL BOARD OF
THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH (DISCIPLES OF CHRIST)
Submitted by
Bernard “Chris” Dorsey, President
January 2, 2019

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INTRODUCTION AND OVERVIEW

Higher Education and Leadership Ministries works with wider church and higher education partners to develop and nurture Christian leaders who are transforming church, society and world.

Higher Education and Leadership Ministries continues to promote Disciples higher education institutions and provide cutting edge leadership development programming throughout the church. This is accomplished most effectively by working closely with Disciples colleges, universities, theological institutions, congregations, regions, and general ministries of the church.

Colleges and Universities

HELM has continued to work closely with the leadership of Disciples Colleges and Universities to strengthen the relationship between Disciples schools and the church. Here are a few highlights:

  • Over the past two years, nearly all of the Disciples colleges and universities have experienced dramatic increases in undergraduate applications. Several schools have also seen significant increases in enrollment.
  • HELM has held info sessions at churches, regional assemblies, and racial ethnic constituency gatherings, to share information with high school students and with their parents.
  • HELM staff has promoted other Disciples ministry programs for young adults by working with Disciples chaplains and campus ministers. This has led to Disciples college students participating in the NBA XPLOR program, DOM Global Mission Intern Program, and DHM Disciples Peace Fellows.
  • During 2018, HELM worked closely with Tougaloo College to bring the school into full covenantal affiliation with the church. The final step in the process will be a vote by the Administrative Committee at the February 2019 meeting.

Theological Education

  • HELM hosted the Council of Theological education in April and featured presentations on student enrollment data across ATS north American schools and Disciples schools in particular. The leaders of the schools committed to engaging in intentional conversations around increasing enrollment of Disciples students at Disciples theological education institutions.
  • A number of our Disciples theological institutions is experiencing a transition of leadership. Gary Peluso Verdend stepped down from his role as president of Phillips Theological Seminary to return to teaching and to lead up other initiatives at the seminary, Matt Bolton ended his tenure as president of Christian Theological Seminary, and Mark Miller McLemore retired from his position as Dean of the Disciples Divinity House of Vanderbilt Divinity School.
  • Lexington Theological Seminary received a $1,000,000 thriving in ministry grant from the Lilly Fund and will continue the cutting edge work they are doing in helping build mentoring relationships between experienced clergy and emerging clergy.

Leadership Programs

  • HELM’s Leadership Fellows program welcomed 8 new students into the program and held the annual Leadership Fellows program for 28 new and returning fellows in New York City. Union Theological Seminary hosted the retreat and President Serene Jones was a featured plenary speaker.
  • The third year Leadership Fellows who are focusing on the theme of global awareness, were able to participate in a delegation to Morocco, thanks to support from Global Ministries
  • Four fellows became the first group of students to graduate having been through all four years of the new format of the program.
  • Next year’s leadership fellows retreat will take place in California and the global awareness international trip will be to Colombia, where students will learn about how our partners have been involved with the peace process there.
  • Along with the Office of the General Minister and President, HELM convened a group of leaders to discuss the role of the seminarians conference in the life of the church. Plans are underway to develop and new strategy for how to nurture and form emerging clergy leaders.

Grants and Scholarships

  • HELM distributed over $100,000 in scholarships and grants to over 45 undergraduate and graduate students.

With respect to its stated priorities of financial equilibrium, program and staff efficiency, engagement with higher education, and board development and participation; HELM reports the following highlights:

FINANCIAL EQUILIBRIUM

In the past four years, HELM has continued to plan for and experience balanced budgets. These surpluses are enabling HELM to pay down loan debts that were incurred during the financial crises of 2008/2009.  HELM’s financial equilibrium continues to enable a shifting of more funding to program activities and increasing support for participants in HELM’s programs. This Disciples Education and Leadership Fund, which has been started with the investment of a $126,000 bequest into a fund with the Christian Church Foundation, continues to grow. HELM is also on target to reduce it’s effective draw from investments by ½ of a percentage point in the coming year.

BOARD DEVELOPMENT AND PARTICIPATION

HELM’s board of directors has been strong throughout the years. In 2017, the board voted to reduce the size of the board from 16 to 12 at large members. The board also voted to change the ex officio campus ministry position to a board elected position. At the end of 2018, three longtime board members ended their terms of service, having completed the maximum allowed number of terms. HELM is thankful for the faithful service of Bill Bailey, Yvonne Gilmore, and Beau Underwood. HELM elected three new board members, along with new officers. The new board members are Joan-Bell Haynes, Colton Lott, and Michelle Scott-Huffman. The new officers are Lonora Graves – Chair; Santiago Pinon – Vice Chair; and Pamela Sparks – Secretary. The Spring 2019 board meeting will be held in the Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas area.

The board continues to be deeply engaged and involved in supporting and leading HELM.

CONCLUSION

HELM continues to discern how best to meet the needs of the church, with respect to the established mission of its ministry.

With gratefulness to God and enthusiasm for continued commitment to ministry, HELM hereby submits this report to the General Board of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).

Yours in Christ,

 

Bernard “Chris” Dorsey

 

 

GA-1711 Higher Education & Leadership Ministries

GA-1711

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HIGHER EDUCATION AND LEADERSHIP MINISTRIES
REPORT TO THE GENERAL BOARD OF
THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH (DISCIPLES OF CHRIST)
Submitted by
Bernard “Chris” Dorsey, President
January 1, 2017

INTRODUCTION

Higher Education and Leadership Ministries works with wider church and higher education partners to develop and nurture Christian leaders who are transforming church, society and world.

 Two and a half years ago, HELM entered a transitional period of leadership along with a period of discernment by the HELM board in considering the current and future state of HELM. Following a number of key changes to the ministry, there continues to be considerable optimism regarding the future of HELM.

The leadership of HELM continues to focus its efforts in four main categories:

  • Financial Equilibrium
  • Program and Staff Assessment
  • Relationship with Higher Education Institutions
  • Board Development and Participation

FINANCIAL EQUILIBRIUM

In the past two years, HELM has gone from experiencing three consecutive years of deficits to reducing the deficit, projecting a balanced budget, and proposing a budget with a significant surplus. This has been achieved through changes to HELM’s staffing configuration; cost savings in the leadership fellows program and the seminarians conference; restoral of funding from the colleges and universities; downsizing HELM’s offices in St. Louis and relocating the offices to Disciples Center in Indianapolis. This financial equilibrium has enabled HELM to shift more of its funding to program activities and increasing support for participants in HELM’s programs. It has also positioned HELM to begin paying down a sizeable balance on its loan debt and enabled HELM to begin looking at reducing the annual draw on its investments.

RELATIONSHIP WITH HIGHER EDUCATION INSTITUTIONS

The relationship between HELM and the higher education institutions of the church have been dramatically improved. This has also led to significant interest between the colleges and universities and key ministries of the church in working more closely together. Funding from the colleges and universities to HELM has been restored. HELM has partnered with Disciples schools to host the leadership fellows retreat and the HELM board meetings. High-level conversations are taking place to move toward establishing more ways to work collaboratively with chaplains and other staff on ways of nurturing young leaders. These changes follow what was recommended in the HELM planning report from 2014. However, because of the stronger relationship with the schools, HELM is not only working with campus ministries, but is engaged in deeper conversations with the presidents and the senior administration of the schools.

PROGRAM AND STAFF ASSESSMENT

There is greater clarity around the structure of HELM’s unique offering of leadership development programs and their potential impact. The leadership fellows program addresses leadership development at the collegiate level. The seminarians conference has the potential to address leadership development at the graduate theological education level; and DLI addresses leadership development at the young adult level. The program assessment conducted last year has given us a better sense of how each of these programs relates specifically to HELM’s mission and what the opportunities for improvement are.

The Leadership Fellows Program has been restructured around four key themes (community, transformation, global awareness, and mentoring) for each of the participants for years in the program. This is in line with the recommendation from the HELM planning report from 2014 to develop, test, and refine a pedagogical approach to leadership development. The stated model of “leadership education through collaborative diversity” is still operative, and we have significantly increased the diversity of the leadership fellows program through strategic outreach to the racial ethnic constituencies of the church and a more progressive and efficient application process.

Through partnering with other ministries, HELM is now able to support an international trip as part of the HELM leadership fellows program and HELM is in a position to make a three-year commitment to Disciples Leadership Institute. The seminarians conference has also been restructured and we are in the process of changing the funding model to overcome some of the challenges it has faced for well over 30 years now. With the current momentum, it has the potential to be transformed from a general ministry “show and tell” to a true leadership development gathering. The seminarians conference is also being moved from Nashville, TN to Indianapolis, IN. This will reduce costs and provide opportunities for participants to more effectively engaged the general church.

In terms of staffing, HELM has undergone dramatic changes. Following Linda Plengemeier’s retirement the accounting support was outsourced and this freed up resources to be applied toward program management, technology support, communications coordination, and development support. The further change from a single full-time administrative support person to part-time support that is more specialized is leading to lower personnel costs and increased efficiency. It remains a work in progress, but the overall improvement has been significant.

BOARD DEVELOPMENT AND PARTICIPATION

HELM’s board of directors has been strong throughout the years. HELM continues to bring on faithful, skilled, committed board members. HELM has also provided the board with key development opportunities in understanding organizational financing & funds management, as well as overall board governance & responsibility. By having the board meet on the campuses of our higher education institutions, the board has been able to understand the work of our higher education partners and see first hand the work of our schools and campus ministry staff. The board is more deeply engaged and involved in supporting and leading HELM.

With gratefulness to God and enthusiasm for continued commitment to ministry, HELM hereby submits this report to the General Board of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).

Yours in Christ,

Bernard “Chris” Dorsey

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The General Board has reviewed GA-1711 from Higher Education and Leadership Ministries. The report is submitted to the General Assembly for presentation and discussion. No action is required. (Discussion time: 12 minutes)