1999 APRRE General Business Meeting Minutes

Toronto, Canada


Sara Lee brought the meeting to order.


Approximately 65 persons were in attendance.



Honoring of Persons Who Have or Are About to Retire


         Chuck Melchert spoke in honor of Berard Marthaler. Melchert shared that Berard has long embodied the theme of this year's meeting: particularism and pluralism. He was the first Roman Catholic member of aprre.  His work in catechisms and creeds is thoroughly grounded in a particular tradition but he does it in a way that is open. He taught at Catholic University of America and also edited The Living Light.  Already in the ‘70's he invited Protestants to be a part of the editorial board of that Catholic journal. He was also the first Roman Catholic president of aprre. He spent a sabbatical in residence at the Presbyterian School of Christian Education while working on a book on Catholic creeds. We will miss his gentle, irenic spirit - and the twinkle in his eye, as he makes astute but ironic observations.

         Jack Seymour spoke in honor of Chuck Foster. Foster is a Past aprre President. He taught at United Methodist Theological Seminary of Ohio, Scarritt, and Candler. He has particular passions for history and intercultural issues. Foster is retiring early--not yet 62. He is passionate about life and is willing to take big steps forward in his journey. Foster is a gracious, listening friend who in trust has called us to be more than we thought we could be. He and Jan are blessed hosts across difference and offer foretastes of the Great Banquet. He will be retiring into teaching, writing, and gardening.


Bill Lord honored Ian Knox, who died earlier in the year. He was a Spiritan priest, a member of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit. He received his doctorate from Notre Dame. His dissertation was revised and published later with the title, Above and Within. He taught for many years in the faculty of Education at the University of Toronto and courses in Religious Education at St. Michael's, faculty of theology. His other book, Theology for Teachers, had been revised just before his death. We will miss his soft voice and gentle wisdom. God gives God's beloved their rest.


Lucinda Huffaker honored Edward Everding. Everding's degree was from Harvard in New Testament. Religious Education was a matter of retooling for him. He had a mutual dedication to teaching the bible and the process of teaching. He used creative pedagogy at Iliff, reflecting his commitment to the transformational power of education. Everding was also committed to the church and the leaders of the church. He was gentle, devoted to students, and had a good sense of humor.


Thanks were given to Sara Lee for her leadership--affirmed by the membership in applause.


Thanks were also given to Thomas Groome for his service as president during the past year. Recognition was given to the three Executive Committee members concluding their terms:  Susan Davies, Patrice Rosner, and Robert O’Gorman.



Executive Secretary Transition

Sara Lee announced Chuck Melchert's planned departure from the office of Executive Secretary. She explained that a search committee has been formed to prepare for the transition. It is chaired by Susan Davies and includes Mary Elizabeth Moore, and Russ Moy. Forms were distributed soliciting information from the membership about their expectations for Melchert's successor. By the time of the meeting in the fall of 2000 names of candidates should be identified. The goal is to elect a person one year ahead of Melchert's departure so there will be an overlapping for transitional period. APRRE will need to address the cost incurred by the overlap. A meeting took place with Groome, Lee and Melchert regarding needs, concerns and qualities of a new Executive Secretary. The same types of issues were on the forms given to the membership asking for input. The position is an episodic job. A job description will be in the January/February newsletter. A lot of the work is in preparing for the conference, newsletter and membership management.  Members were encouraged to share comments with a search committee member. Melchert added that he is not running out on APRRE. The position is just taking too much time from his writing, which was his reason for retiring from teaching. Lee observed that a lot has been done by the committee already since its start on Friday. Thank you given to the committee.


Journal Initiative


The Executive Committee recommends that a joint effort between APRRE and the REA begin to explore funding for planning the future of the Religious Education journal. The future needs to be ensured and made even more promising than at present. Melchert is to facilitate getting this started by assisting a committee created by the Executive Committee of APRRE. There is insufficient time for small group discussion of this issue during this meeting. All members are urged to give initial feedback and comments to Melchert who will pass them on to the committee. At this point the committee includes Tom Walters, Sara Lee and Chuck Melchert, with Hanan Alexander and Jack Seymour as consultants. Good support for the idea has come from REA representatives.



Melchert presented the budget and the financial report from last fiscal year. The numbers in last year's financial report are higher in light of meeting with the REA last year. There was a deficit from last year on paper—large expenses apparently without matching funds but funds were received from a grant in the previous year. APRRE did not lose money, as it would appear. The report does not show additional reserves of $11-12,000 and travel funds in the $8,000 range. APRRE is not in a bad shape financially.


Lee recommended two changes to the proposed budget. ONE- the salary of the Executive Secretary. Melchert has done well without adequate compensation. The Executive Committee would like to offer the new Executive Secretary something more commensurate but they also do not want the next person to be the sole beneficiary of that decision. The proposal is to gradually increase Melchert's salary to get where APRRE wants it to be for the next Executive Secretary. Raise from $5,000 to $6,000 to $7,000 in the next years. TWO-Issue of income. The Executive Committee recommends that dues be raised from $55 to $65 for members and associates and from $25 to $30 for emeritus and student. Lee commented that APRRE has a bright future and decisions should be made now that positions APRRE to move forward. The raise is modest and last year’s increase has not negatively impacted membership. The increase would also facilitate stronger outreach to doctoral programs and expanding the membership base.


Questions and comments from floor: Need to specify that the budget is in U.S. dollars. Remember that the exchange increase is impacting Canadian members more. Why not take Canadian at face value?  Or should we look at the future impact of doing so? May Elizabeth Moore recommended that Canadian members be exempt for the coming financial year from the increase. Moved and seconded. (That would be about 40 to 50 members.) What of other foreign members - should they be included? Would that make it difficult to project income? Chuck thought it would not be too bad. The difficulty is that it costs more to support international members. For example, it costs the same dollars to send mail to 55 non-US members as does to send mail to 400 US members.  Still, we should be able to do that and keep balance. Vote on amendment, which would exempt all foreign members from the dues increase for this coming year.  Passed without dissent. Vote on the budget as amended. Passed without objections.


It was observed that one way to make up loss get more members in attendance.


Locations for Upcoming Meetings

Melchert reported that work has begun on the dates and locations for meetings in the next three years. The meeting during 2003 will be in Chicago for the100th anniversary of REA, hopefully at the Palmer House. For 2001 and 2002 Boston, Baltimore and Minneapolis/St. Paul are being considered.


Regarding dates, the pattern will be the first weekend in November or last weekend in October. Next year the days will be November 3-5. Davies was curious about opinions about meeting with aar because she was hearing concerns expressed. Lee responded by saying that last year the membership unanimously voted after discussion to meet separately. This is the first year of meeting separately and APRRE needs the opportunity to see how this works for the next few years. Lee suggested the issue be revisited after another couple of meetings.


APRRE 2000

Melchert shared that next year's meeting will be on November 3-5 in Atlanta. A hotel has already been selected but an additional three will be considered this coming week. The newsletter will announce the specific location and will ask for information for the new membership directory. A request was made to have the call for papers come earlier.


Jack Seymour reported that the theme for the meeting will be “Knowing God: Meeting God in the Peoples of God.” He intends to build in and expand in the program the voices of persons in congregations and justice ministries. It is best when we talk directly with those who live and lead in congregations; people who are seeking to live out their faith even when the congregation does not take them seriously. He is intending to open with a liturgy drawing on voices from congregations. Attention will be given to examining methodologies in use. Time will be devoted to leaving the hotel and engaging communities in Atlanta. The last session return to issues of revelation.


Melchert reminded the membership that next year will be a joint meeting with the REA.


Travel Fund


The report on the travel fund includes good and bad news. The good news is the level of success in receiving contributions for the fund. The bad news is that few members asked for travel funds. Melchert said this was the smallest application year. APRRE needs to communicate better about the fund and look at funding levels to be more generous. The membership was encouraged to talk to people to encourage them to come to meetings and use the travel fund. A recommendation was made to continue the drive to build the travel fund. A comment was made that grants need to be larger in order for the grant to make a difference in deciding to come. Some members did not bother applying because they knew that in the past the grants have been small. A recommendation was made to create something about the fund that can be put in people's hand, maybe send a hand out as part of the newsletter. Another comment was made that as a student the APRRE experience has been good but that was because mentors introduced people—hospitality. Suggestion was made to have a student rate for meeting registration. That will be considered for next year. Another question raised was whether MDIV students could participate. The commenter said she was told APRRE was not for her but she was interested in her future. The issue is to be put on the agenda for the Executive Committee to discuss. Groome commented that reaching $8,000 in the travel fund was great but we want to get to $10-12,000 level so APRRE can be generous out of the interest of the fund, not its principle.


Nominating Committee


Groome reported that the nominating committee was constituted by Melchert and outgoing Executive Committee members. The nominations were:  Incoming Vice President: Wen-in Ng, Executive Committee—Lorna Bowman, Nelson Strobert, and Karen Tye. The nominations were seconded. Discussion. Nominees were asked to stand. Motion was made to cast a unanimous ballot. Accepted and passed.


Comments for the Collective Good and Welfare


Open floor time. Michael Warren noticed that membership seems to be aging. APRRE should not be just for those at dissertation folks but others brought in to get new perspectives. Lee restated the Executive Committee initiative with to network with institutions and aggressively reach out to bring new people in. Lynn Westfield observed that the information on the travel fund would help. Observation was also made that no time was allowed in the schedule for a doctoral caucus—that was important. Melchert accepted responsibility for the oversight. Ted Brelsford asked if papers can somehow be distributed in advance--the only paper he read was one not in the proceedings and it was e-mailed to him. Registrants need notification of which groups they are in so they can solicit a paper. People with contributions to the bibliography initiated in the women’s luncheon should contact Mary Elizabeth Moore.



Respectfully submitted,

Randy G. Litchfield