Higher ed, campus ministry board to see expanded size

By Jessica Connor

The group overseeing United Methodist colleges and campus ministries will see its size significantly expanded.

At their fall meeting, Connectional Ministries approved a new, larger structure for the Board of Higher Education and Campus Ministries. Previously, the BHECM had a very large board because they have a very large scope of work; they are responsible not only for oversight of the four United Methodist colleges in S.C., plus campus ministries and chaplains at those and other colleges in the state.

But with the new structure for District and Conference Connectional Ministries enacted in 2012 and 2013, the BHECM was reduced to just three to five people, plus six ex officio members—not nearly enough to handle the workload, CCM leaders said.

“(The larger size) was needed because their board functions are significantly different,” said the Rev. Kathy James, CCM director. “They have responsibility for property and staff, as well as programming, so they needed a different consideration.”

Last year, the conference created a task force to explore the unique and critical needs of South Carolina’s seven campus ministries, which have the charge of reaching, supporting and nurturing the souls of college students. Headed by the Rev. Josh McClendon, associate pastor at Shandon United Methodist Church, Columbia, the task force examined leadership, oversight, growth, sustainability and financial need, ultimately fleshing out a strategic plan for campus ministries that helps it shift strongly into the future.

McClendon said the task force batted around many ideas, including possibly hiring a full-time conference staff person who would oversee campus ministries. Ultimately, because of funding constraints and other issues, they decided expanding the BHECM to a larger, stronger and more representative board could do the most good. But he hopes it could be a stepping-stone to creating a conference staff position for campus ministries.

The task force proposed the structure change to the BHECM, which approved it and then took it to the CCM for approval; they approved it Aug. 23.

Bill Heustess, chair of the BHECM, said he “welcomes the expansion of BHECM.”

McClendon said the new BHECM structure is similar to what it used to be. They proportionally increased the number of members, plus proposed many more ex officio members, including representatives from each school, each chaplain, a representative from each campus ministry’s local board and each campus minister individually. While these are not voting members, McClendon said, they are present for each meeting and are aware of the dialogue and can bring needed insight to the body.

They also stipulated that the members of the board proper include good diversity of all the bodies that are key stakeholders: Conference Finance and Administration, Board of Ordained Ministry, district superintendents and more.

“The scope is pretty wide across the discipline, and they’re tasked with so much—fundraising, oversight, advocacy for all collegiate ministry (campus ministers, proper and chaplaincy), scholarships and a lot of other stuff,” McClendon said. “It’s a huge task … and just too few people for such a huge scope of work.”

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