PROPOSED Change to Term Limits

The Allegheny East Conference (AEC) constituency session is about to take place on Sunday, October 14. There are important issues to consider aside from the election of a new president. One of those issues concerns term limits for the president.

The current bylaws of AEC says that a president can only serve three (3) terms of four (4) years. The constitution and bylaws committee is going to present to the constituency a change that reduces the number of terms a president can serve while lengthening the term itself. In other words, the suggested change calls for a president to serve two (2) terms of five (5) years instead of three (3) terms of four (4).

Under the current bylaws, a president can serve up to twelve (12) years. Under the proposed change, a president will only be able to serve up to ten (10) years.

I actually LIKE the CURRENT bylaws that call for sessions every four rather than five years. I think that the accountability of a constituency session is a good thing.

We have already done away with the midterm constituency session. There are town hall meetings that were to replace the midterm constituency session. These town hall meetings are primarily informational in nature. The members who attend are not delegates, so anything proposed is simply a discussion. Actions are not taken and voted on at town hall meetings.

That's what we have now under the current model where the terms are four years (therefore the sessions are every four years).

I do not see the conference being benefitted by extending the length of a term and maintaining town hall meetings. If the bylaws suggested returning to a midterm constituency session, I may be able to support it. But then, we are back at the expense issue that moved us from having sessions every three years.

There's another problem with these five year terms. The proposed change suggests that any partial term of two and a half years or more shall be considered a full term.

My guess is that they have proposed this because if a president vacates the office for any reason, the person to replace that outgoing president will then potentially serve 12.5 years. (Two terms of 5 plus 2.5 years of the remaining term vacated by the outgoing president.) I get it where they're coming from.

But if a president leaves at year 2 rather than year 2.5, the person who replaces the outgoing president will be considered to have served a full term (though she or her only served 3 years). What if this is a good president? If the president is good, we have gone from a possible 12 years of servant leadership to now a maximum of 8 years.

That seems a bit unfair because every leader suddenly thrust into office has to learn what was going on before they can even begin to implement the vision God is giving them for the organization. The incoming president is really not even getting 8 years because she or he is trying to stabilize/learn/understand what was going on under their predecessor in a way that they don't when a president vacates the office because their term came to a natural end.

For these and other reasons, I conclude that we ought to leave the bylaws as they are with three (3) terms of four (4) years and then work to improve the effectiveness of the town hall meetings.


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