On Earth Peace held its fall board meetings expressing gratitude for the excellent leadership being provided by its interim executive staff and interns, and an improving relationship with the Church of the Brethren. The online meetings were held on October 6 and 8 with a follow up meeting held on December 10.
The meetings reflected the hard work of positive organizational transformation. Since the fall of 2021, the staff and board have been experimenting with less hierarchical structures for staffing and governance in alignment with anti-oppression values. Development and financial practices are being prioritized to strengthen and develop the capacity of the organization as it fulfills its mission to develop and walk with leaders working for justice and peace.
The board passed a balanced budget for 2023. The $376,000 budget is based on a realistic assessment of expected income, including limits on endowment draws. It establishes new parameters and practices to support long-term financial sustainability and growth. As part of the budget process a decision was made to base program staff salaries on the Church of the Brethren pastoral pay scale and its office executive’s pay on comparable positions in the denominational office. A new three-year fundraising effort has shown promise with $65,000 in new three-year pledges to date. A goal of $195,000 in new pledges by April 1 is underway. To assure a balanced budget in 2023, a contingency plan for a month-long furlough is in place if financial commitments are not received in time.
The board expressed appreciation to Bev Eikenberry and Marie Benner-Rhoades for working with Seth Hendricks and Chris Good to plan the successful December 3 “Sing Me Home” benefit concert held at the Manchester Church of the Brethren (IN) and streamed online. Sponsors and an online auction supplemented proceeds as well as the generous support of musicians, featuring Jacob Jolliff & Seth Hendricks and Hearth & Hymn.
A report was received about the conclusion of eighteen months of conversations with the Standing Committee of the Church of the Brethren. The Leadership Team of the denomination asked for these conversations alleging that OEP had violated polity in making a decision to join the Supportive Communities Network of the Brethren Mennonite Council for LGBT Interests. The Standing Committee found that OEP did not violate polity.
The Church of the Brethren Annual Conference delegate body asked OEP to work with the Southern Ohio & Kentucky district to develop a two-year study action process on racial justice for the entire denomination.
Two bylaw changes were approved by the board pending final confirmation at a member meeting to be scheduled this winter. The first would change a requirement that OEP conduct an annual audit and instead require an annual financial review with the board free to call for an audit at any time. A second bylaw change approved updates the purpose and responsibilities of the organization’s treasurer.
Tamera Shaw, Doug Richard, and Jessie Houff were welcomed as new board members. Recognition and thanks were expressed to Cindy Weber-Han and Melisa Leiter-Grandison, co-chair, who have completed two full terms of leadership on the board. Lucas Al-Zoughbi and Caitlin Haynes resigned from the board and were recognized for their contributions.
The board will meet on January 28, 2023, to call new leaders and reorganize its committees for the next two years.