The 149th session of the General Board was held at The Wesleyan Church (TWC) Headquarters on May 2-3, 2023. At its beginning, General Superintendent Wayne Schmidt stated that the meeting might be one of the most consequential General Board meetings of his tenure.
Agenda items included Olio Road headquarters building sale, Memorial 857 “Approval Process for Withdrawing from the Denomination” Task Force report, Fifteenth General Conference venue and dates selection, homosexuality position paper update and an Educational Institutions Task Force report.
Devotions were provided on Tuesday by Reverend Chase Stancle, North Central Representative Area, and on Wednesday by Tammy Leonard, Northeastern Representative Area.
The sale of the 13300 Olio Road headquarters building to the Wesleyan Investment Foundation (WIF) was approved to occur before 2024 with TWC signing a multi-year lease. Considerations included: the General Church’s ability to serve districts and local churches more effectively by investing in information technology over physical facilities, intentional alignment of General Church workplace needs to maximize stewardship and missional effectiveness, anticipated expansion of WIF’s business operations, TWC’s history of leasing and owning headquarters facilities, and depreciating commercial office space. The General Board also approved using sale proceeds to establish an Infrastructure Reserve Fund in case workspace needs change.
The General Board gratefully received and acted on the Memorial 857 “Approval Process for Withdrawing from the Denomination” Task Force’s final report presenting four recommendations. The General Board was unable to act on the first recommendation, an editorial amendment to The Discipline requiring General Conference action. The General Board, which serves as the General Conference Committee on Memorials, will present the Task Force’s recommendation as submitted to the 2026 General Conference. Additional work groups may be formed to examine other aspects of the Approval Process for Withdrawing from the Denomination; each comprised of individuals with specific, relevant expertise. The General Board acted on the other three recommendations: approving for immediate implementation edits to General Board Policy on Church Discipline paragraph 5004 Conflict Resolution and 5425 General Board of Review Organization and Procedure, and approving a motion to clarify and strengthen TWC’s position regarding gender identity.
Indiana Wesleyan University (IWU), Marion, Indiana, was approved as the Fifteenth General Conference venue scheduled for May 17-20, 2026. Bid comparisons for costs foundational to the General Conference budget (delegate lodging, food, travel, meeting space) showed a $334,000 savings by hosting the event at IWU. It was noted with appreciation that every room assignment will include a private bathroom, hotel-quality mattress, bedding and bath linens, and that this venue selection pilots General Church event hosting possibilities for other schools and churches, as well as the ability to highlight all Wesleyan educational institutions.
Part of the General Conference savings were approved for a funding reallocation to support FOLLOW 2023, honoring the event’s significant impact on TWC’s history and future. The General Board affirmed its confidence in the next generation of Wesleyans and the importance of investing in them.
The Study Committee on Homosexuality reported it is on task to present a recommendation and position paper to the General Board in November.
Approval was given for the Wesleyan Education Council, building on work completed by the Educational Standards Task Force, to continue revisions to General Board Standards for Educational Institutions and bringing recommendations to the May 2024 General Board meeting.
Tuesday evening, retiring TWC Discipleship Director Reverend Kim Gladden; Wesley Seminary President Dr. Colleen Derr elected president of Eastern Nazarene University, Quincy, Massachusetts; and Great Lakes District Superintendent Dr. Chris Conrad who earned a Ph.D. in organizational leadership from Indiana Wesleyan University, were honored. Global Partners Executive Director Dennis Jackson provided updates on Acts 1:8 initiatives throughout the global church.
Wednesday morning’s business included an announcement that Northeastern Area Representative General Superintendent Emeritus H.C. Wilson who, after nearly 40 years of General Board service, is retiring. Atlantic District Superintendent Peter Moore was elected to complete Dr. Wilson’s term. Additional business covered a FOLLOW 2023 presentation from TWC Next Gen Director Santes Beatty and the General Superintendent sharing his intent to form a working group to explore from a holiness perspective how colleagues in ministry can flourish. The meeting concluded with examples being shared of how TWC embodies Acts 1:8 and prayer for the General Officers.
The next General Board meeting is scheduled for November 14-15, 2023, at 13300 Olio Road, Fishers, Indiana.
Janelle Vernon is the executive director of Communication and Administration for The Wesleyan Church.