June 13, 2020 Meeting Summary Normally the June meeting of the Board is held on Friday afternoon to finalize business for the Annual Gathering of the Conference.  This year we would have been meeting at United Congregational Church in Grand Island, but instead we gathered once again on Zoom. Our meeting began, as is our custom, with sharing the concerns of our churches and communities.  We heard about how congregations are coping with online ministry, how they are engaging in conversations about reopening, and how recent racial justice protests have impacted churches.  The Conference Board wants to thank all of our clergy and all of our congregations for the good ministry they are doing in this difficult time. We met and welcomed new staff members Tawnya Jacobs, Finance Director, and Blaine Wilson, Ministry Support in the Sioux Falls office.  And we heard staff reports from Rev. Brigit Stevens and Rev. Darrell Goodwin.  They talked about how they continue our regular work such as search and call while responding to the pandemic and racial injustices.  The Board particularly thanked Darrell for his leadership in Nebraska addressing racial injustices and drew attention to the incredible news coverage he had received in Omaha and Lincoln. Treasurer Joan Michelson presented our Treasurer’s Report.  While our investments had declined significantly in March, they have already recovered much of their value.  We have some concerns about revenue, but expenses other than salaries are negligible since so many events and programs have been cancelled or re-envisioned. Barry Hemmerling reported that the Clip Higgins Scholarship Committee has developed the application form for those clergy who want to apply for student loan debt forgiveness funds. Sue Shear presented a report from the Nominating Committee.  Normally new board members would begin serving in June, but this year won’t until we hold our annual meeting.  Rev. Lisa Hadler has been elected to a term on the Tri-Conference Ministries Board of Directors, beginning in July.  We are holding off on selecting General Synod delegates.  The Synod in 2021 will be virtual, which might allow us to consider for delegate some folks who normally are unable to travel. Our Annual Gathering will be held on Saturday, October 17 and will be on-line.  We hope to excite even more people to participate in watching some of the main sessions since people won’t have to travel.  Parts of the meeting will be held jointly with the Iowa Conference.  The keynote speaker, as announced before, is the Rev. Naomi Washington-Leapheart, the Director for Faith-Based and Interfaith Affairs for the City of Philadelphia. Our Climate Change Sabbath, which had been scheduled for April to coincide with Arbor Day and the 50th anniversary celebrations of Earth Day, we have chosen to reschedule for the same time next year, hoping to give it the focus it deserves. We discussed what we as a Board need to do about addressing racial injustice and white privilege.  The Board will be issuing a letter to congregations on this topic.  While we are still discerning what steps to take, we discussed prioritizing anti-bias and anti-racism training, providing support to congregations who want to pursue this work, and using our scholarship funds to encourage calling ministers who are people of color to the Nebraska Conference.  We will continue our prayerful discernment in the months ahead. Barry Hemmerling and Fay Ann Blaylock were scheduled to rotate off the Board at this meeting, but they have committed to continuing to serve until the Annual Gathering in October. The Board will likely meet again in September, when we had planned to go on retreat together.  A number of our initiatives are currently on hold as we focus on our immediate needs as a conference.  We are grateful to you for the work you are doing as the church in this difficult time. Peace, Scott Jones Conference Board Chair