Foreword

Acknowledgements

Julie

Visible Problem Indicators

Stewardship

Agents of Change - Issues

Institutional Dynamics

The Institutional and the Local Church

Operative Theology

Prognosis for the Future

Revival - What is Needed?

Closing Remarks

Appendix J
REPORT TO THE GBGM FINANCE COMMITTEE
SHERATON HOTEL
STAMFORD, CONNECTICUT
MARCH 22, 1992

When the 1988 General Conference authorized a task force of unbiased persons, lay and clergy, to study the feasibility of relocating the General Board of Global Ministries [GBGM] from its current location in New York City, I went back home from St. Louis feeling that the whole process would be handled with integrity. After all, the 15 persons on the task force were carefully selected by our bishops. There were 3 chosen from each of the 5 jurisdictions within the United States. All were strong church leaders, and I was fully confident that their findings would be those in the best interest of our church. I was also very pleased to learn later that 5 of the 15 persons selected by our bishops for this important task force were either past or present directors of the General Board of Global Ministries, thoroughly familiar with the present location of the headquarters in New York City.

The Task Force met on numerous occasions over the past four year. They hired the firm of Price Waterhouse to assist then in their study. These highly respected church leaders gave unselfishly hundreds of hours in studying the issue at hand. They spent approximately $70,000 fulfilling the task that our 1988 General Conference assigned them to do. After they completed their thorough research, the Task Force voted overwhelmingly that it was NOT ONLY FEASIBLE to move the GBGM out of New York City, but they also recommended that IT SHOULD BE MOVED. It is highly significant that 2 of the 3 representatives from the Northeastern Jurisdiction on the task force voted that it should be moved, minimizing the accusation that there was a regional prejudice.

While the General Conference Task Force was making their study, I can assure you that as Chairman of the GBGM Finance Committee, I was prepared to accept whatever recommendation this group of highly qualified and conscientious persons brought forth. However, I learned very quickly that many of my colleagues on the executive staff at 475 Riverside Drive were not nearly as open. I could hardly believe my eyes when I discovered that certain of these staff persons were beginning to mobilize forces to discredit the findings of the Task Force long before the findings were even revealed. I heard arrogant, condescending voices regarding the workings of the Task Force, and I had a hard time correlating the criticisms of the Task Force with the fact that the 15 persons on the Task Force were carefully selected by our bishops and highly qualified. It then became apparent to me that the general Conference Task Force had not been shown the decency of having their report placed in the hands of the directors before there were powerful organized efforts to discredit their recommendation. As I listened and observed all of the unfair treatment directed toward the Task Force and the arrogant disregard of their recommendation, I decided that someone should have the "guts" to stand up and be counted. Be assured that I knew when I chose this course of action that I would have very few supporters among the 178 directors of the GBGM. However, I never dreamed that key executive staff at 475 Riverside Drive would go to such great extremes to mobilize forces against me and question my integrity.

While I continued to observe actions aimed at never giving the Task Force recommendation a fair hearing, I received a telephone call from Mr. Jim Steele, then editor of The Christian Advocate serving the Alabama-West Florida and North Alabama Conferences. He asked if I would write an article on "Why The GBGM Should Relocate from New York City." In an effort to off-set what I perceived to be an assassination of the Task Force Committee's report, I chose to write the article.

No sooner had the ink dried on my article did I become a target of vicious criticism. Just 30 minutes before I left home coming to this meeting, I received in the mail a letter that had been mailed to all directors with the names of the officers of the GBGM listed at the end. The letter blatantly accused me of using inaccurate information in my article. Upon arriving at our GBGM meeting here in Stamford, Connecticut, I was shocked to learn that the very substance of the article was developed by Betty Thompson, staff member of GBGM at 475 Riverside Drive, with the encouragement of Randy Nugent and the assistance of his secretary, Rene Wilbur. After the Cabinet at 475 Riverside Drive had an opportunity to scrutinize the document, it was THEN mailed to the GBGM officers for their editorial revisions. As a matter of record, I want it clearly understood that this letter calling into question my integrity was basically written by a staff employee at 475 Riverside Drive who is totally opposed to relocation, and yet her name does not appear anywhere on the document.

In an effort for truth to reign supremely, I would like for those across the church to hear my side of the story. I challenge the news media (outside of 475 Riverside Drive) or any investigative reporter to check out my responses and allow all of the delegates to the 1992 General Conference to discern for themselves who is telling the truth.

I would like the sunshine of truth to break through on each of the following issues where I was accused of providing inaccurate information.
  1. SEVERANCE PACKAGE FOR PEGGY BILLINGS
    In pointing out the wastefulness of the GBGM located in such an expensive environment, I pointed out in my article that "one executive who was terminated with the GBGM was given a severance package of $500,000 over 5 years." This one statement has created a storm of protest among the key executives at 475 Riverside Drive, so I hope and pray that the truth of this matter might be made clear to the whole world of United Methodism.

    On May 13, 1988, 13 members of the Executive Committee of the World Division met in Denver, Colorado. One of the main issues addressed at that meeting was the fact that Peggy Billings, Deputy General Secretary of the GBGM, was not being renominated to her position. The minutes of that meeting in Denver contain these words,

    "It was agreed to establish, upon completion of a contract satisfactory to Peggy Billings and the GBGM, an account in the amount of $300,000, to cover World Division commitment to the funding of the Project on the Church, Society and Ethics, to be paid out in terms of the contract. Source of funds: Collins Funds, in the category of administrative expenses of the World Division, one of the two categories for the use of Collins Funds agreed upon with the Collins family and designated by Directors: missionary retirement benefits and World Division Administration."

    On May 21, 1988, the Executive Session of the Women's Division minutes include the following paragraph.

    "Recommended:

    1. That "The Church, Ethics, and Society Project Plan" be approved. It was voted.
    2. That funding of the above PLAN be in the amount of $100,000 annually, for a 5 year period, with 40% paid by the Women's Division and the balance (60%) to be paid by the World Division; and that the source of funds for the Women's Division share be the Excess Deficit Fund. It was voted."

    The United Methodist Reporter shared an article with its readers that was provided by the United Methodist News Service. It was headlined, "Two Global Ministries Executives Given New Church-Related Projects." Among other things the article states, "Two high-ranking officials of the United Methodist Church's General Board of Global Ministries who were not renominated to their position last spring will take on new church-related projects.... At its 1988 spring meeting, the board's personnel and nominating committee, in a closed door session as required by the Book of Discipline regarding personnel matters, decided against renominating the two executives for another term in the fall."

    Regardless of how one seeks to explain the $500,000 (one-half million) appropriation over 5 years, the simple truth is that a staff member who was not renominated, or in my understanding "terminated" as head of a division was "given" a position that offered a "package" of $500,000 over 5 years. When I used the word "package," I also had in mind not only salary, but also pension, insurance, transportation costs, research, seminars, and other related costs pertaining to the project.

    Yes, I was present in Denver, Colorado on May 13, 1988 when the initial action was taken. I did speak out at that meeting. I clearly recall that the only matter to be decided at that meeting was whether or not the $100,000 appropriation per year would be open-ended or limited to five years. The "wheels were greased" for the half-million allocation to support a person AND project, the recipient of which was one who had not been renominated as head of a division. One bishop on our Board that I highly respect explained this as a "sweetheart deal", but I think the the whole thing was sour and rotten to the core.

    The Church and Society Project is now 3 years old, and I have not heard it mentioned the first time. Where is there a periodic progress report on the Project? How is the project progressing? What will be done with the final report? Will it be publicized for the GBGM to use? What contract was finally agreed upon as acceptable to the author and GBGM? Why was she not renominated to her position as Deputy General Secretary of the GBGM?

    The overarching question that I would like to raise regarding the whole matter of severance for Peggy Billings and her project is simply this,

    "HOW COULD AN APPROPRIATION OF THIS MAGNITUDE (ONE-HALF MILLION DOLLARS OVER 5 YEARS) BE GRANTED WITHOUT EVER BEING PRESENTED TO THE BOARD FINANCE COMMITTEE?"

    The officers of the GBGM in their letter to all of the directors falsely allude that I did not raise the issue related to the severance pay and project at the May 13, 1988 meeting in Denver. That is incorrect. I raised the issue then, and I continued to raise the issue throughout the quadrennium.

    On May 27, 1989, I received a letter from Harry A. Newman in Atlanta, then Field Representative for Mission Cultivation of the Southeastern Jurisdiction. Dr. Newman wrote, "Rumor has it (and I certainly believe it to be true) that those who have been asked to resign from the GBGM during the past months have uniformly received significant cash settlements... often reported to be in the nature of thousands and thousands of dollars. It seems a bit unusual to me that we are willing to reward those whom we have decided to replace because they are no longer fulfilling the needs of the organization while adopting in my own case a policy which penalizes me rather severely because of the unplanned and actually unavoidable death of my wife. My thinking may not be completely clear, but it seems to me that we are penalizing those who are still performing their duties in a completely satisfactory manner and rewarding those who have not done so."

    On June 30, 1989, I wrote a letter to Mr. Steve Brimigion, GBGM treasurer, in which I stated among other things that it was very difficult for me as Chairman of Finance to explain to persons like Harry Newman the allocation of $500,000, regardless of the source of the funds. I asked Mr. Brimigion in my letter, "Where does the Finance Committee fulfill its responsibilities for the receipt of the funds of the Board when these kinds of decisions are made by other persons or groups?"

    I want to go on record once again as saying that no matter how one wants to explain the allocation of $500,000 to Peggy Billings for her salary, fringe benefits, project, and all related costs, the whole matter has a stench to it and is rotten to the core!

  2. COST OF BOARD MEETINGS:
    The officers of the Board in their letter to the directors took issue with my figures pertaining to the cost of Board meetings. As we prepare to begin a new quadrennium, I would like to invite the readers of this article to carefully scrutinize the attached financial forms attributed by Mr. Steve Brimigion, GBGM treasurer, three years ago (1989), beginning a new quadrennium. This financial report includes exact financial figures expended in 1988.

    Isn't it interesting that the 1988 spring, fall, and organizational meetings cost $1,039,000. Now we are saying that the Board will spend only $700,000 for two meetings in 1992.

    Perhaps, a close scrutiny of the 1988 expenditures will shed light on why this kind of unrealistic low figure can be projected. While we spent $l,039,971 on three meetings in 1988, we had budgeted only $845,000.

    You will also note many other items that greatly exceeded the budget. The General Secretary's TRAVEL in that one year was $64,052 with an appropriation of $50,000. When a member of our Board Finance Committee asked Steve Brimigion how this could happen, his response was, "Who am I to tell Randy that he cannot travel?"

    Immediately following the meeting in which these figures were received, one of our new directors at that time, Elizabeth Gionti, wrote a letter to Mr. Steve Brimigion in which she included these words,

    "Unless there is accountability at all levels of the organization which contributed to the $1,000,000 over budget for 1988, we surely are going to witness some mess! Even a quick perusal of the 22 page document of 1989 and 1990 appropriations for Board-wide Priorities, Meetings, General administration, Treasury, and Services shows exorbitant overspending on meetings plus travel and contingencies in just about every office from the General Secretary down. I would have thought that significant overspending in any area would require prior approval of at least the Finance Committee, if not the full Board of Directors."

    As one reflects upon these figures, it is very obvious that United Methodists across the world have every right to be concerned about the budget controls at GBGM.

  3. SIZE OF BOARD
    The letter from the officers of the GBGM to all our directors makes note of the fact that "the General Conference, not the Board, has determined the size and composition of the GBGM." While that is true, be assured that our GBGM is a very powerful board with powerful influence at General Conference. If we were really serious about streamlining costs and providing more money for missions, we could easily go on record in support of petitions to General Conference limiting all Boards and Agencies to no more than 75 members. It is absolutely ludicrous that we have 178 members on our Board of Directors, some of which, oftentimes, come from the very same town and very same church.

    Our GBGM cannot blame the General Conference for the multitude of committee meetings, duplication of services, and general wastefulness that permeates nearly every aspect of our Board.

  4. COST OF MOVING
    The letter from the officers of the GBGM states that I express no concern at the cost of moving which has been estimated at figures from $9 to $15 million dollars. One of the significant points that the General Conference Task Force is seeking to make is that no matter what the cost, they are able to present facts and figures showing that the costs will be "recoverable''.

    When key leaders of GBGM learned that the General Conference Task Force recommended relocation, the arrogance of our Board was once again portrayed. Steps were taken immediately for us to request that GCFA and GCOM conduct an independent study. By our Board's action, it was decided that if GCFA and GCOM refused to do it, we would go ahead and pay for the $25,000 study. It should not surprise anyone that GCFA and GCOM refused to do it.

    I would like to refresh the memories of all of our directors that the very last speech that Spurgeon Dunnam made on the floor at our October, 1991, meeting, he spoke about the sheer "arrogance" of our Board spending $25,000 for such a study. He alluded to the negative reaction this would have among our constituencies across the church, spending $25,000 for such a project while we are saying to the same people that we do not have sufficient funds for other purposes. I think Spurgeon Dunnam was prophetic in his remarks!

    Although I, like Spurgeon Dunnam, was strongly opposed to the allocation of $25,000 for our own study, I asked Steve Brimigion, our treasurer to keep me as Finance Chairman abreast of any action regarding this study. On March 19, 1992, one day before coming to this spring meeting, I received in the mail a letter from Steve Brimigion, informing me that the general counsels of the church had declined the request of the GBGM to conduct a study of relocation costs. He then states in his letter,

    "We have retained PHH Fantus Company as consultants to accurately estimate the cost of any move GBGM night have to make."

    Who did the treasurer consult prior to hiring this firm? How are we to put any confidence in a $25,000 study made by a firm selected by persons adamantly opposed to relocation? When will the study be held? What purpose will it serve?

    If the main reason for not relocating the GBGM is financial, would you not expect the Treasurer and General Secretary to at least consult the Chairman of the Board Finance Committee regarding our Board's response to the whole issue? I have never been asked by the Treasurer or General Secretary to be a part of any group chosen to respond to the report of the General Conference Task Force.

  5. JURISDICTIONS FROM WHICH STAFF MEMBERS OF GBGM ARE SELECTED
    The officers of GBGM take issue with my stating that the majority of the staff of the GBGM comes from the Northeast. I would like for the record to show that the Report of the General Conference Task Force states,

    "Approximately 7O% of the applicants for executive level positions and half of those employed in recent years have come from residents of the Northeastern Jurisdiction."

  6. "OUT OF TOUCH" WITH SOUTHEAST
    The officers of the GBGM attack my statement that the theological and philosophical persuasions of the staff at GBGM are far different or "out of touch" with those of us within the Southeast. Once again, I call to your attention an exact quote from the Task Force report,

    "The New York City location is at one edge of the United States membership of the United Methodist Church which compounds the perception that it is theologically and philosophically remote from the mainstream of the United Methodist Church."

    The one great proof of the fact that the GBGM is "out of touch" with the people of the Southeast can be clearly seen in the whole relocation issue. While upwards of 90% of the GBGM directors would probably vote against relocation, I will predict that the delegates from the Southeast will vote strongly in favor of relocation.

    Who are the strongest and loudest critics of the GBGM within the Alabama-West Florida Conference? Tragically enough, it is those former missionaries who have served unselfishly for many years under the auspices of the GBGM and now have grave misgivings about the actions of our GBGM.

    The fact that the Southeastern Jurisdiction has traditionally been an enthusiastic supporter of missions speaks more of the faithful, generous people called United Methodists in our area fulfilling the mandate of Jesus Christ rather than strong support of the actions of GBGM.

  7. GBGM HOSPITALITY AT GENERAL CONFERENCE
    The officers of the GBGM in their report take issue with my reference to "many, many thousands of dollars" that will be expended to "lobby" delegates at General Conference.

    The unbelievable "lobbying" efforts on the part of the GBGM forces have already begun with letters having been sent to delegates all over the world. I have attended three previous General Conferences, and I have seen firsthand the powerful political pressure of the GBGM. I only want the "grassroots" of United Methodism to clearly understand in advance of General Conference that when the GBGM plans a huge reception for delegates in one of the most expensive hotels in Louisville, they are creating an "unequal playing field" in an atmosphere where important decisions are to be made. It will be terribly, terribly difficult for particular delegates who are beholden to the GBGM and staff for funding to resist the pressure that the lobbying forces of GBGM will put upon them regarding the relocation issue.

    What will be the cost of the reception? What will be the source of these funds?

CLOSING PERSONAL STATEMENT:

I am presently serving in my ninth year as pastor of the First United Methodist Church of Montgomery, Alabama. During those nine years, our church has been recognized by our Conference Board of Missions for having given more money to United Methodist missions through Advance Specials than any of the 720 churches of the Alabama-West Florida Conference. We have within our church what I feel is the strongest United Methodist Women's organization of any church within our Conference. I have never served a church that did not pay 100% of its World Service and Conference Benevolences. Within the past few weeks, two GBGM missionaries have spoken from our pulpit where I am privileged to speak each Sunday. On May 24, 1992, Tim and Carol Crawford, GBGM missionaries to Mozambique, will speak in our church. Last week-end, our church hosted the Cuban Shalom Choir that sang in our church on three occasions and spent two nights in the homes of our church members. It was a marvelous experience for us! Our church during the past year has sent Volunteers in Mission teams to Costa Rica and Jamaica. I have been down in the front line trenches as a District Superintendent, strongly encouraging members of local churches to support all of the United Methodist mission programs. I have spoken for our United Methodist Women on a local, district, and conference basis, strongly supporting their gifts to missions.

I have served as President of the Alabama-West Florida Conference Council of Finance and Administration, as well as Chairman of the Council on Finance and Administration for the Southeastern Jurisdiction. Never in all of my life has my integrity been called into question by stating that I provided "inaccurate information." Since my integrity has been called into question, I would love for the news media (outside 475 Riverside Drive) to let the light of truth shine upon each of these matters contained in my article.

I must return home tomorrow to officiate at the funeral of one of our most faithful members, Roonie Gentry. I deeply regret that I will be unable to stay for the remainder of our spring board meting to defend myself from any other attacks upon my truthfulness.

As I come to my final general board meeting after serving on this Board for 8 years, I must confess that it has been a very disillusioning experience. I have experienced a very difficult time as a local pastor seeing widows on fixed income giving sacrificially to the mission programs of our great church while at the same time as chairman of the Board Finance Committee knowing that we appropriated $500,000 for a person and project when that very person had not been renominated as the Deputy General Secretary of the World Division. I have equally been disillusioned by 178 directors spending over $300,000 for a week's meeting in New York City and the sheer arrogance of appropriating $25,000 for our own study for relocation that flies in the face of the one authorized by the General Conference.

Although Don Messer and I do not agree on the issue of relocation, I think that he is right on target when he says that as a GBGM, "We can win the battle and lose the war!" I do not know how the final vote will be in Louisville on the matter of relocation. My life and ministry will not be changed one way or the other if the Board does not relocate. However, I want to go on record as saying that if this GBGM continues to arrogantly resist General Conference mandated task force recommendations such as the one regarding relocation, you can rest assured that the World Service dollars will continue to drop all across the world of United Methodism.

Thanks for listening!

Dr. Karl K. Stegall, Chairman
General Board of Global Ministries
Finance Committee


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