By Christa Meland, Minnesota Conference
Peoria, ILLINOIS—Delegates spent Friday, their last full day of Jurisdictional Conference, praying and listening, and they approved a resolution related to human sexuality as well as a budget and a new budget process for the next four years.
Deep listening and prayer around violence and race issues
The day’s business session began with 90 minutes of prayer and deep listening in response to recent violence and racial tensions in our country. Delegates on Wednesday approved a special North Central Jurisdiction College of Bishops calendar request to set aside this time.
“The business of the church is to be an instrument of God’s grace,” Bishop Julius Trimble, who leads the Iowa Conference, reminded delegates. (He made the calendar request on behalf of the College of Bishops.) “We believe there is a need to make time for conversation and listening, for prayer and commitments.”
Bishop Sally Dyck, resident bishop of the Northern Illinois Conference, asked all attendees—delegates, bishops, and visitors—to gather in groups of three with others they do not know. She then led them in prayer and asked them to respond to a series questions in their small groups: What words of hurt or healing or hope have stayed with you as you’ve listened to others talk about race, racism, and other racialized incidents? How has your thinking about race changed over time? What question about race relations or race perspectives have you been reluctant or afraid to ask outside of your own racial, ethnic, or cultural group?
Attendees then shared some of their discussions and commitments with the larger group. Commitments included holding vigils to honor the lives that have been lost, talking about white privilege within churches, engaging in small group studies focused on unity across races, and expanding our own social circles to include racial and ethnic diversity.
Resolution related to human sexuality
The body approved an amended version of a resolution that calls for a spirit of unity while the Council of Bishops explores issues of human sexuality within the denomination. Specifically, the resolution calls for the North Central Jurisdiction College of Bishops and the Council of Bishops to treat all clergy respectfully and fairly regardless of their views on human sexuality.
The resolution also calls on the bishops to explore options to help members of the church live in grace with one another—including ways to avoid further complaints, trials, and harm—while upholding The Book of Discipline. The resolution was introduced by Phil Moots of the West Ohio Conference and written in collaboration with delegates, both clergy and laity, across the jurisdiction after conversations that began at General Conference. 
Approval of budget
After little discussion, delegates approved a four-year budget totaling $1,124,300. With the new budget comes a new process for administering a portion of its funds.
No funds were assigned to 13 non-disciplinary-required program ministries that had previously received a share of the total budget. Between 2017 and 2020, the jurisdiction’s Mission Council will implement a “zero-based restart” of these and other ministries. Start-up funds for “exciting and innovative emerging ministries that have a jurisdiction-wide impact” will be distributed on the basis of grant applications considered by the Mission Council. A total of $500,000 was set aside in the quadrennial budget for these grants. Each funded project will have an application, a beginning, an end, and an evaluation.
The director of connectional ministries in each conference will work in an advisory role to help determine how the $500,000 will be administered. The idea is to integrate jurisdictional funding into the overall financial support of a proposed project. 
In explaining the new budget process before it was approved, Treasurer Rick Van Giesen said this allows the jurisdiction to begin innovative ministries right away rather than waiting until the next Jurisdictional Conference to request and receive funding approval. “What if starting funding for a great idea could be delivered in weeks, not years?” he asked.
The approved budget also includes $200,000 to support the Dakotas-Minnesota Area in hosting the 2020 General Conference, set to take place May 5-15 of that year in Minneapolis.
Looking ahead
The 2016 Jurisdictional Conference concludes Saturday with a consecration worship service that begins at 10 a.m. It is at this service when bishops will learn where they will be assigned for the next four years. You can tune in to the consecration service via live stream.