Composition of AME Stewards & Trustees : LUSENET : A.M.E. Today Discussion : One Thread

According to pages 69 & 72 of the 2000 Doctrine & Discipline, local churches should consist of no fewer than 3 stewards and trustees and no more than 19 respectively. Does anyone know why the number "19" was selected as the maximum number? As a student of mathematics I know 19 is a prime number, but that has special meaning for writers of computer programming code. It would seem to me a maximum number encourages organizational inefficiency for churches which are large in number or experiencing rapid growth. Am I to believe some of our mega-churces, described in another recent thread, are complying with this upper-bound regulation of having only 19 stewards and trustees? Unlikely. Folks who are chosen to serve as Gen Con delegates and the compilation committee would be wise to avoid language which is not based on sound logical priniciples. QED

-- Anonymous, November 12, 2001


Brother Bill, There's the Discipline, there's Polity and then there's the old country pastor way. Board of Stewards number one, board of Trustess number one, then boards number 2. Rather than set aside the older leaders the emeritus boards were named.

Sound logical principles are indeed needed. How about decreasing the number of delegates to a General Conference. How about trimming fat out of Epis Dist budgets (a Fordian slip!)

Be Blessed! WHS

-- Anonymous, November 12, 2001


I am not aware of any A.M.E. Church, which has more than nineteen members on either board no matter what the size of its membership. The majority have nine and Missions have three. I believe it is set at an uneven number because all our election must be done in secret ballot and require one more than half to elect.

Some churches have Junior Stewards in training, some also have two Stewardess Boards but these are simply in name only. They are not voting members. Anything that differs from this comes from some other denominational tradition, which is not Methodist and is done in ignorance and for the lack of reading, studying, and understanding.

Trustees are elected and Stewards are appointed ANNUALLY so there is simply no such thing as an Emeritus Board of either kind. That is a Baptist Church tradition reserved for Deacons. Deacons in our church are ordained ministers. So, again it is not applicable. If this is being done it is in error. However, Since all officers must be confirmed by the Quarterly Conference with a Presiding Elder present, I really don't see how even these errors could occur.

-- Anonymous, November 12, 2001

Robert: Thanks for your note. Now let's suppose the upcoming election for trustees consists of 40 candidates and 300 ballots are cast. If I understand you correctly the top 19 vote getters must receive at least 151 votes each to be elected. I have no problem with this format but I'm still don't understand why 19 is selected as opposed to 23 or 15. Both are odd numbers. Also, what happens if the 15th - 19th top vote getters doesn't get the required one more than 50%. Do we have a 2nd, 3rd or 4th ballot vote to make sure we get one more than 50%? QED

-- Anonymous, November 12, 2001

Bill, addressing your last question: yes. First, for 19 positions, the pastor (who is the nominating cvommittee for rustees) should only be nominating 38, not 40. Second, those who do not secure a clear majority on the first ballot must seek such on subsequent ballots.

Now the subsequent ballots may no longer be 400. Often in elections in our church, from the General Conference down to the Church Conference, people leave between ballots. Thus, one can win election on the majority of a second ballot if one's supporters stay in the polling area. :-)

With respect to multiple boards, I thought I recalled bridge Street, Brooklyn, having multiple steward boards in the 80s. They were all composed of 19 members. I don't know if one was officially a "junior Board" or not.

With regard to Junior Board: some pastors use this to expose the machinations of the church to young adults in preparation for their future leadership roles. Other pastors use this to cultivate members (adult) whom they desire to appoint to the "Senior" board in the near future, sort of Steward in Training in both cases. Technically the Junior Board does not have a counting vote.

Regarding 19: it's got to be buried in our history somewhere. I do not know why that specific number. If only our old disciplines were on line.

-- Anonymous, November 12, 2001


I don't know why the arbitrary number of 19 was selected but I suspect it was done to cut down on confusion, as a larger number of persons would make matters more difficult to negotiate. That is, too diverse in there opinions to cone to a consensus.

The answer to your second question is YES. ALL persons elected to ANY position in our church should have received one more than half of ALL votes cast in the ballot and balloting should continue until this has been achieved. For this reason it sometimes takes more than twenty hours to elect Bishops and five or six ballots if the also rans fail to drop out and support another candidate.

Also be aware that the number of votes cast may vary from ballot to ballot if all eligible voters fail to vote in each ballot.

-- Anonymous, November 12, 2001

Jerryl/Robert: Your commentary strongly suggests that the election of AME trustees is not based on a plurality of votes but a simple majority. While a plurality is administratively easier [top 19 vote getters] the majority-rule ensures that the candidate represents the interests of more voters. Majority rule requires longer balloting but the tradeoff [greater representation] is well worth the wait and "agony". Thanks for the clarification. QED

-- Anonymous, November 12, 2001

I believe that the number 19 is used because we have 19 districts

-- Anonymous, December 09, 2002

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