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A Message from the Upper New York Conference Treasurer
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.
Your Conference Finance Team is available to help you. Please contact me or the other Finance staff if you have a problem, questions, suggestions or just need a finance colleague to talk to. We are eager for you to learn more about your Conference's finances.
I am glad to report that many of the initiatives and projects underway in the Fall of 2015 have been completed or progressed significantly since my last message. The last six months have been very busy with the development of our 2017 Ministry Share Budget and refinement of our 2016 Spending plan.
You probably heard our 2015 Ministry Share collections were lower than we had estimated for our 2015 Spending Plan. We experienced an operating shortfall of approximately $200,000. Our total 2015 Ministry Shares request was $10,340,438. Approximately 67 percent of our churches paid their Ministry Shares in full. That’s 602 churches out of 896. While we are extremely thankful, we are aware there is more stewardship work to be done across the connection. As you can see, 178 of our churches paid little or no Ministry Shares for 2015. Modest increases by these churches would make a significant difference in the funds available for Conference ministries.
Here is a summary of our 2015 Ministry Share collections:
Conference CF&A and staff recently expanded our efforts at the district level to assist local church congregations address financial stewardship through assessment, training, and support. We will work with congregations to develop ministry plans to allow our churches to pay 100 percent of their Ministry Shares.
2017 Ministry Shares Budget & Spending Plans for 2017 and 2016
Our continuing financial challenge can best be described as how will we bridge the gap between the ministries we want to support, described in our annual budget, and our available Ministry Share collections.
The Conference Leadership Team, Council of Finance & Administration, Trustees, Conference staff and other Conference Teams worked collaboratively to prioritize spending areas outlined in the annual budget. The following 2016 Spending Plan was developed at the end of 2015 based on an estimate of Ministry Share collections of $7,800,000 reflective of our collection history.
Formulation of the 2017 Spending Plan will start in the Fall of 2016 with an estimate of 2017 Ministry Share collections. The following table describes possible scenarios for 2017 at different Ministry Share collection levels. Our actual expenditures will depend on the levels of Ministry Shares actually paid by our churches. As you can see, if Ministry Share collections remain at historic levels, we will be forced to significantly reduce funding of variable costs down to 16%. Additional collections of between $200,000 and $300,000 in 2017 would allow the Conference to work close to the minimal levels in 2016 and 2015. These additional collections represent a small part of the nearly $2,500,000 unpaid Ministry Shares in 2015.
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:
- We have installed a new accounting software program to replace the current out dated program. A new chart of accounts has been developed and training on the new system has been completed. The new system was in place in January 2016.
- The 2017 Ministry Share Budget was completed and significant progress has been made to expand our budget process to include revenue and expenditures outside the Ministry Share budget into budgeting for other non MS funded areas of our activities such as Camps, Trustees and Benefits funds. This overall budget will help us see the big picture of the various financial areas of the conference and plan appropriately.
- CF&A, District volunteers and staff continue to advance work to develop and deploy District Stewardship Support Teams.
- We have completed Conference financial audits through 2013. These audit reports may be seen on our UNYUMC.org website, click here to view. Audits for 2014 and 2015 are expected to be completed and published by the close of 2016. The 2016 audit will be completed in time for our Spring 2017 Annual Conference.
- We are currently working with and supporting a variety of Conference teams including work on the new Conference Center, upgrades and improvements to the Conference's technology department, providing support for New Faith Communities development and support to Trustees regarding property and insurance matters.
I hope this report is useful and informative. As always, please contact me or the Finance Team with your questions or comments. 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