Strategic & Economic Analysis Task Force

Report to 2013 Annual Conference

Adopted as amended during plenary session.

The annual conference established this task force in 2010, giving authority to the resident bishop to appoint its members and chair. Our original members included Rev. John Cole, Pastor Oscar Destruge-Sandoval, Rev. Albert Hahn, Mr. Wendell Harris, Rev. Sabrina Johnson Chandler, Rev. David Mantz, Rev. Jim Moore, Ms. Joyce Palevitz, Rev. Ann Pearson, Rev. Tim Riss, Rev. Bill Shillady, Ms. Renata Smith, Mr. Ross Williams, and Rev. Dennis Winkleblack. In 2011, Bishop Park added Rev. Jeannette Bassinger-Ishii, Rev. Richard Hayes, Rev. Wongee Joh, Rev. Vicki Flippin, Rev. Kristina Hansen, Rev. Bill Pfohl, and Ms. Ximena Varas to the task force, while Dennis retired. John Cole was our chairperson. The task force is deeply grateful for all he did to make us what we are. He was especially filled with energy, spirit, and grace in the last few months before the 2012 Session of Annual Conference, when he led us through a long sprint of weekly meetings, culminating with a statement we presented to the annual conference. The 2012 Annual Conference adopted the statement of our preferred future with some clarifying language, which we believe marks the beginning of a new epoch for us. We are sorry John retired, and we hope the conference will continue to remember the strong role he played in bringing us to this new era.

This is the statement adopted by the annual conference:

Within 5 years the NYAC is flourishing: We are increasing discipleship, ensuring financial stability, and demonstrating Christian leadership across our mission field—while empowering and expecting our congregations to do the same.

Twice as many people are received by profession or reaffirmation of faith as have been lost through death or have moved away.

In a region marked by the diversity of every kind, it is our goal that our churches and their leadership reflect the fullness of that diversity.

Income is 10% more than expenses in our operating budgets so that an adequate reserve is maintained for emergencies and unforeseen expenses.

Cabinet and BOM recruit five new clergy candidates every year (from within or without NYAC) who hold promise for excellence in multicultural and transformational ministries.

5% of local church laity on average are lay servants, certified lay ministers or similarly trained or utilized in the church’s ministry.

NYAC requires all expenditures to be investments in increasing discipleship, achieving financial stability or forming and strengthening Christian leadership.

Bishop McLee understands that some members of the task force were appointed to represent specific agencies. He determined that Tim Riss would take the role of chairperson, while Ms. Gillian Prince would represent the Council on Finance and Administration; that Pastor Kevin Mulqueen would represent the Board of Trustees instead of Joyce Palevitz; and that Rev. Bob Walker would serve as his representative instead of Jeannette Bassinger-Ishii (who retired). Joyce was engaged as a consultant by the task force after its first meeting, providing us with clarity, organization, document preparation, and real-world expertise, along with continuity and a deep understanding of the conference and its possibilities.

The task force has worked diligently to develop tracking indicators and strategies and to identify responsible agencies, available resources, troublesome issues, and next steps to be taken for each of the six bullet points of the statement about our preferred future. We have opened dialogues with most of the conference agencies that we believe are crucial to the realization of this future. We understand our role to be similar to what a think tank does. We advise the conference agencies that are accountable for our corporate welfare and empowered to lead us into the future.

We are not quite finished with our work. First of all, we believe we need another several months to finish negotiating with conference agencies about the development of “strategies to realize our preferred future,” which the conference last year charged us to do. But even more important than this, we have come to realize that there needs to be ongoing strategic planning in this annual conference, and we would like to present to the 2014 Session a proposal for how that might be done. So our first recommendation this year is that the annual conference continue the Task Force for one more year.

We have a second recommendation that comes from conversations Bishop McLee has been having with the Cabinet, the Council on Finance and Administration, and the Parish Development Commission. We understand that the PDC has voted unanimously to support the hiring of a full-time director of congregational development. We understand that CFA has budgeted for this position without raising the line item for Parish Development (with the consent of the PDC). We understand the Cabinet has been developing a job description and compensation package.

As we have considered different strategies for realizing our preferred future, thinking specifically of increasing discipleship and professions of faith, we thought a full-time director of congregational development would be very helpful. This person could facilitate new church starts, cooperative ministries, and plans for church growth, while assisting churches in transitional situations. We are grateful for the vision our bishop has cast, and we have the privilege of bringing this recommendation for annual conference consideration.

Recommendations: We recommend that the annual conference continue the Task Force for one more year 1) to finish working with conference agencies about strategies to realize our preferred future and 2) to design and propose an agency that will provide ongoing strategic planning.

We also recommend the establishment of the position of director of congregational development, a full-time position, with job description, qualifications, and compensation to be worked out between the Cabinet, the Parish Development Commission, and the Personnel Committee, and with initial funding from the New Church Start Funds of Parish Development and not from the conference budget.


In November of 2010 Bishop Park formed a task force to carry out a resolution passed at the 2010 Annual Conference (cited at the bottom of this page) – a resolution that recognized that we, along with most of The United Methodist Church, are on a downward trend in terms of membership and finances.

This resolution asked that we “initiate a broad strategic analysis of our connection including a careful examination of the conference's dynamic economic environment and competing priorities such as health care, pensions, personnel, program, resources for various commitments, income streams, apportionment obligations, etc.” After a few meetings several task force members and others attended a Financial Leadership Forum sponsored by the General Board of Pensions and Health Benefits (GBOPHB) and the General Council on Finance and Administration (GCFA).

At this forum the task force learned more about the Financial Advisory Consulting Team (FACT), which was created by GCFA to help Annual Conferences respond to the significant challenges faced by the denomination at this point in our history. Recently Bishop Park engaged the FACT team to assist our task force in carrying out the mission of this broad strategic analysis.


Our task force, which is now called the Strategic & Economic Analysis Task Force (SEATF), reported back to the Annual Conference in June 2011 and asked the Conference to extend its life for another year in order to complete its work. FACT started their process with us this fall by interviewing approximately 20 leaders in our Conference and recently meeting with us to share the results of those interviews and the statistical research they did for us based on available metrics.

FACT Report

The Financial Analysis & Consulting Team (FACT) report (link below) is their final report and it makes recommendations to our Annual Conference about possible goals and timelines. It is a joint report from select staff members from both GCFA and the GBPHB under the leadership of retired Bishop Bruce Blake, commissioned by the Council of Bishops, to assist conferences in assessing their current financial state and to make recommendations for improvement. Our committee (SEATF) is now in the process of working through the report with the aim of bringing a strategic plan to Annual Conference in June.

Click here to download the final report from the FACT team>>

Text of the resolution approved at 2010 Conference

WHEREAS the New York Annual Conference is increasingly challenged to meet fixed and expanding financial obligations while desiring to advance the course of the gospel of Christ, BE IT RESOLVED that the Bishop convene a planning group to initiate a broad strategic analysis of our connection including a careful examination of the conference’s dynamic economic environment and competing priorities such as health care, pensions, personnel, program, resources for various commitments, income streams, apportionment obligations, etc. and report its conclusions and recommendations to the 2011 Annual Conference to determine the future direction, health and vitality of The New York Annual Conference.

SEATF Members

Members of the committee (SEATF) are listed here with our emails. If you wish to comment on the process, have questions, or want to make suggestions please contact us by email.

Tim Riss, Chair
Sabrina Chandler
Oscar Destruge-Sandoval
Vicki Flippin
Kristina D. Hansen
Wendell Harris
Richard Hayes
Wongee Joh
Martin D. McLee
James W. Moore
Kevin Mulqueen
Ann Pearson
Bill Pfohl
Gillian Prince
Ed Ruppmann
William S. Shillady
Renata Smith
Ximena Varas
Bob Walker
Ross Williams