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A Message from the Upper New York Conference Treasurer
It’s hard to believe a year has passed since my last message. The last 12 months have been marked by some very positive and significant achievements including increases in Ministry Share collections, the Conference paying 100% of its General Church apportionments and our moving into our permanent Conference offices on Henry Clay Blvd.
Stay Grounded in Our Purpose
The purpose of the Conference is to support Local Church efforts to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world by equipping its local churches for ministry and by providing a connection for ministry beyond the local church; all to the glory of God.
In fulfilling this purpose, the primary tasks of the Upper New York Annual Conference are to:
- Recruit, train, equip and deploy transformational clergy and lay leadership
- Resource our local churches with effective tools and practices for effective disciple-making in the 21st century, and re-forming the church for vitality, relevance and fruitfulness.
- Nurture a planting culture where people are recognizing the movement of the Spirit in their neighborhoods to plant new communities of faith; and, provide the training, support and resources needed for people to plant new, sustainable communities of faith.
- Align resources to support the purpose of the annual conference and the mission of the local church and implement a system of accountability for mission and ministry at all levels.
Communicate how we share a common mission as United Methodist Christians.
I am glad to report that many of the Finance Team initiatives and projects underway in 2016 have been completed or progressed significantly since my last message. The last six months have been very busy with the development of our 2018 Ministry Share Budget. As requested by the Conference in 2016, CF&A expanded its efforts to present and communicate the 2018 budget earlier in the year and through a series of District Listening Sessions. These steps allowed for a more timely review and discussion of the budget. We also shared the details of our budget in new ways to enhance understanding and better communicate how the budget supports the mission and activities of the Conference.
In an effort to clarify and simple our budget, we changed the way we developed and presented our budget information. These efforts resulted in our 2018 Budget Booklet including our Narrative Budget and our Budget Briefing video.
2016 Ministry Share Collections
You may recall our 2015 Ministry Share collections were lower than we had hoped, resulting in an operating shortfall of approximately $200,000. The good news is that in 2016 we turned the tide and an all-time high level of Ministry Shares was received, amounting to just over $8.5 million compared to the 2015 collections of $7.9 million. Thanks be to God! And thanks to all our Churches and members for their generosity and dedication to the United Methodist mission.
Our total 2016 Ministry Shares request was $10,079,236. We are encouraged to report the number of Churches paying their Ministry Shares in full increased over the prior year to 72%. That’s 621 churches out of 867. Of the 621 churches, 117 paid more than the amount asked for the year. As you can see in the table below, 246 of our churches paid little or no Ministry Shares for 2016. Conference CF&A and staff are continuing our efforts at the district level to assist local church congregations in addressing financial stewardship through assessment, training, and support.
Here is a summary of our 2016 Ministry Share collections (click image to enlarge):
Finance Team Projects, Activities and Status
The Conference Finance Team has been working in several areas to improve the quality, efficiency and timeliness of financial support and reporting. In addition to our usual ongoing work, the team has been working in the following areas:
- CF&A and the Finance team are looking to expand our communication of finance related topics to provide support and connection across the Conference. The plan would be to replace the periodic Treasurer’s Messages with more timely and regularly updated information to help our churches navigate their financial responsibilities.
- We have started our second year using our new accounting software program. Many thanks to all that have journeyed with the Finance Team to develop, learn and use the new system and new chart of accounts.
- Our 2017 budget has been incorporated into our reporting beyond just our Ministry Share activity and now includes budgeted revenue and expenditures for all of Camping, Trustees, Investments and Benefit funds. This overall budget will help us see the big picture of the various financial areas of the Conference and plan appropriately.
- We are about to complete the Conference financial audits for 2014 and 2015. The 2016 audit should be completed in mid-2017.
- Our plans to upgrade and improve the Conference's technology platforms are nearly complete with the installation and expansion of communication, networking and storage capacity, including new computer network equipment, software upgrades, a new telephone system and participation in GCF&A email and data backup services. Our improved systems set the stage for digitally connecting our District offices, Camps and remote users to the Conference Center IT and communications systems. Together we will be better able to communicate and connect to our common information in a more efficient and cost effective ways.
Your Conference Finance Team is available to help you. Please contact me or the other Finance staff if you have a problem, questions or suggestions or just need a finance colleague to talk to. We are eager for you to learn more about your Conference's finances. Let me know if you have any suggestions for improving this report or other ways finance can be helpful.
Peace and Grace,
Kevin J Domanico, Conference Treasurer