At the Annual General Meeting of May 2014 there was a difficult discussion about sending money to overseas partners. The issue was not about supporting or not, as we all recognize that there are huge needs in many parts of the world. Indeed, our Conference was extremely generous in responding to the needs of our partners because of Super Typhoon Haiyan last November in the Philippines. The problem in our meeting arose because of the process.
We have subsequently searched the Archives and found the Policy to which we referred at the meeting, but could not produce electronically. Historically, what began as a financial plea at the Annual meeting in 1985 resulted in a lengthy Policy at the Annual Meeting of 1986 including: “That any motion committing the Conference to the expenditure of non-budgeted sums of money be required to have a budget attached;…That in the interests of fairness and justice, request for funding of projects or groups not covered in divisional budgets be subject to conditions and criteria similar to those that are currently expected of requests for Mission Supports Grants, (provision of a budget, outline of other funding available, statement of goals and purposes of project or group, etc.)…
And the subsequent motion under the heading “Concerns around Resolutions and Petitions” includes
“Indicate to whom the motion will be sent that the mover and seconder should provide a one-paragraph written description of concerns which led to the framing of their motion in order to guide the Petitions and Resolutions Committee in their deliberations. That all motions must be in the hands of the Petitions and Resolutions Committee by 8 pm the night before presentation.”
With said Policy in hand, the Conference Executive on June 17, 2014 passed a motion directing the Conference Finance Committee to clarify the Conference Policy on all financial matters wherever they may arise both within and outside the bounds of budgeted expenditures. This will be transmitted to all when the process is complete.
The motion of the Executive addressed the process, but not the heart of the issue, which is to provide monetary support to others when we have identified deep needs and in particular with the Philippines, who is our partner in ministry as a Conference.
I have witnessed great generosity from our Conference since my two visits to the Philippines.
In November 2011 I met with partners in ministry and heard about the struggles particularly because of the mining issues. I witnessed our Mission and Service dollars at work supporting schools operated by congregations. In November 2013, landing immediately on the tail of the Super Typhoon, I was visiting with those affected, their homes, schools and livelihoods literally blown away by the power of the wind and waves. Since those visits, I have done more than 60 presentations, in every presbytery, for individual congregations and for UCW gatherings. And the result has been voluntary monetary donations made to specific causes and situations.
Our current Conference project is to help fund Pump Boats for Estancia, Iloilo at a cost of $1800 each.
At the Annual Meeting, the request was to support two specific families dealing with tragic circumstances. According to Patti Talbot, Team Lead Partnership Cluster and Asia Partnerships Church in Mission Unit, “there are opportunities for the United Church to respond through a designated gift via the General Council Office to [CPA refers to the Cordillera Peoples Alliance]
1. the CPA's mining and human rights campaign, as well as
2. The CPA's vision of an Cordillera Indigenous Peoples' Centre.
With regard to support for the Ligiw and Bugatti families, it is important that this be placed
in the context of support for the CPA, and its ongoing mining and human rights campaign. The UC Canada is not able to raise or transfer funds for specific individuals. Rather, we could forward support to the CPA for their fund for emergency, short-term support of the victims of human rights abuses and their families.”
With this understanding, there were a number of concrete suggestions about how funds could be raised by ministry sites choosing to respond, and when the President-elect’s hat was passed, $1,374.00 was collected from the plenary. This money has been sent to the General Council Office, to the attention of Patti Talbot, Team Lead Partnership Cluster and Asia Partnerships Church in Mission Unit with a letter outlining the wishes of the Conference to support the Cordillera Peoples Alliance and as they see appropriate, to support the named families. We acknowledge that decisions about distribution need to be done at a local level by those knowing the exact circumstances.
As a Conference, we encourage support of many ministries, and for ministry sites to be educated about the variety of needs around the world where we can help. I would be happy to visit your ministry site, to share my images and to encourage relationships with our partner churches through the United Church of Christ in the Philippines and the National Council of Churches in the Philippines. I also encourage that monetary donations can be sent to the Conference office, specifying work for the Philippines and with Patti Talbot, we will work with our overseas partners to ensure safe delivery.