2019 Southwest Region Conference Constituency Session Report

Executive officers, from left: Executive Secretary, Stephen Brooks; President, Calvin L. Watkins, Sr.;  Treasurer, Philip G. Palmer

The 25th Regular Session and Fourth Quadrennial Session of the Southwest Region Conference convened September 21-22, 2019 in Keene, Texas. The session opened Saturday evening with powerful praise and worship music before a moving message was presented by Office of Regional Conference Ministry Director Dana Edmond.

The business session followed, as the meeting was called to order, quorum was met and 611 delegates and delegates-at-large were seated. The minutes of the 2015 Constituency Session were reviewed and approved, before the parliamentarian, McKen Carrington, was introduced. The meeting ended with a benediction and the delegates were dismissed for the evening.

On Sunday, September 22, 2019 Northeastern Conference President Daniel Honoré presented the devotional message during the worship session. The business session reconvened with a short presentation recognizing the leadership and pastoral team that responded to the border crisis in El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, this July. With support from the nine regional conferences, the Office of Regional Conference Ministry and the North American Division, the Southwest Region Conference team visited shelters on both sides of the border. The delegation met with and listened to individuals’ stories, offering hope and encouragement as well as supplies to those in need.

Administration Reports

Delegates received a comprehensive administration and departmental report book in their packets that detailed the work and accomplishments of the conference over the last quadrennium. Interview-style videos were presented for each of the three executive officers during their administrative reports. Some takeaways from the 2015-2019 reports included: 3,062 baptisms with a net increase in membership growth of 1,792; an overall tithe gain increase of 3.7%; a reduction of $1,253,940 in revolving fund debt; major improvements at Lone Star Camp that have contributed to an increase in value of the property from $5,996,634 to $7,172,780, as well as the camp being awarded American Camp Association Accreditation in 2018.

The executive officers expressed gratitude to the members, ministers and teachers of the Southwest Region Conference across the five-state territory for their sacrifice and diligent work in ministry. Leadership and delegates praised God for the blessings reported.

Auditor’s Report:

Michael Merrifield, CPA, CGMA, General Conference Auditing Service Regional Manager, shared the December 31, 2018, 2017, 2016 and 2015 audit report for the Southwest Region Conference and Southwest Region Conference Association. The conference received an unmodified or “clean opinion,” which is the best opinion review an organization can receive, for all four years.

Nominating Committee Report:

Southwestern Union President Larry R. Moore chaired the Southwest Region Conference Nominating Committee. He recognized the committee and thanked the members for their hard work. The Nominating Committee report was read and voted, and the following positions were confirmed.

Executive Officers: President, Calvin L. Watkins, Sr.; Executive Secretary, Stephen Brooks; Treasurer, Philip G. Palmer.

Departmental Directors: Youth Director, Carl Ming; Community Services/Inner City Director, Durandel L. Ford, Sr.; Church Ministries, Personal Ministries Director and Sabbath School Director, Charles Sanders; General Field Secretary and Diversity Ministries Director, Vanston Archbold; Education Superintendent, Buford Griffith, III; Family Ministries Director, W.S. Lee, Jr.; Public Affairs and Religious Liberty Director, Kerwin Jones; Stewardship Director, Oswaldo Hernandez.

The following positions were referred to the Southwest Region Conference Executive Committee: Children’s Ministries Director, Communication Director, Ministerial Director, Health Director, Young Adult Director, Evangelism Coordinator, as well as all of the associate director positions.

The delegates then proceeded to approve the Executive Committee members, Southwest Region Conference Association Committee members and Constitution and Bylaws Committee members as presented to the delegates.

Other Action Items

The Constitution and Bylaws Committee proposed amendments to the Southwest Region Conference Constitution and Bylaws. After discussion, the following amendments were voted and approved:

  • Constitution Article V- Membership: Increase the minimum membership requirement from 25 to 40 members in order for a company to become a church.
  • Bylaw Article II- Constituency Meetings, Section 8. Election of Departmental Directors: Remove the requirement that Town Hall meetings be held annually throughout the conference from this section of the bylaws that deals with the election of departmental directors, in favor of addressing the Town Hall requirement in a separate article.
  • Bylaw Article XVI- Amendments: Change Article XVI- Amendments to become Article XVII- Amendments and add a new Article XVI to Address Town Hall Meetings.
  • Bylaw Article XVI- Town Hall Meetings: Create Article XVI to address Town Hall Meetings at a frequency of at least once per quadrennial term in all eight geographical areas of the conference.

Three new congregations were voted into the sisterhood of churches: Emory Spanish Company, Shekinah Company and Sulphur Springs Spanish Company. A list of several congregations came before the delegates for a vote of disbandment and/or membership merged with other congregations. The officers shared that they had met with the churches listed for disbandment or merger from the 2011-2015 quadrennium, and a brief explanation was shared for each church’s situation in the 2015-2019 quadrennium. The disbandment of ten congregations from 2011-2015, and eight congregations from 2015-2018 was voted and approved.

The session came to a close with a prayer over the officers and departmental leadership of the Southwest Region Conference. May God continue to bless and guide the ministry of the Southwest Region Conference in Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas and across the world.

By Kristina Pascual Busch, Southwestern Union Associate Communication Director