Conference announces revised 2016 spending plan
The Upper New York Conference Leadership Team (CLT) and the Conference Council on Finance & Administration (CF&A) released a letter earlier this week detailing changes to the Conference’s 2016 spending plan. According to the letter, “the guiding principle in making these decisions was, ‘What cuts will have the least direct impact on the ministry of the local church?’” Click here to read the full letter.
These cuts were not easy to make, and some of the most challenging ones include the Reaching Our Neighbors Ministry Oversight Team (RON MOT) grants and the Conference’s college ministry programs, including support for the Syracuse University Chaplaincy.
In addition to the joint letter, which outlines the rationale behind the spending plan changes, a Frequently Asked Questions page has been set up to further address questions members of UNY may have.
One question that has been answered in the FAQ is Why, in particular, was support cut for the Syracuse University Chaplaincy? The FAQ states: “Cutting the funding for the chaplaincy position was one of the most painful decisions made by the CLT and CF&A. There is a great history between SU and The United Methodist Church. Unfortunately, with the 2015 Ministry Shares receipts coming in at 76.13 percent and the 2016 Ministry Shares payments uncertain, this is the kind of painful decision that had to be made. Our commitment is to continue ministry to students of Syracuse University and creative options are being explored in cooperation with the university’s administration that will allow us to maintain a United Methodist presence on the SU campus.”
Click here to read the full FAQ.
Some of the other cuts included eliminating funding for a coordinator working with the Volunteers-in-Mission team and a payroll clerk in the Conference’s Finance Ministry Area.
While the changes to the spending plan were very hard, the letter pointed out there are encouraging signs as well.
“We increased our General Church Apportionment giving to 65 percent, and we funded Africa University, the Black College fund, and the Northeastern Jurisdiction at 100 percent,” the letter said. “Furthermore, two-thirds of our congregations paid 100 percent of their Ministry Shares in 2015. Many of the churches that did not pay 100 percent in 2015 have been working hard to increase their level of support to the connection. This is all good news that we celebrate!”
While it is true that the majority of the changes to the spending plan involved cuts to funding, some crucial areas were also enhanced. District grants, for example, will be fully funded at $10,000 per district in order to provide direct support for the ministry of local churches through the District Leadership Team. This enhanced funding for District Leadership Teams is possible because the Ministry Oversight Teams are being phased out, allowing resources to be shifted closer to the local church.
All of this comes in the midst of the purchase and renovation of the new Upper New York Conference Center in Liverpool. The funds for this project are not part of the budget supported by shared ministry giving, but come from the proceeds of the sale of buildings from our predecessor conferences. As such, these funds are designated specifically for the new Conference Center.
While changes to the 2016 spending plan are challenging, there is already work being done to increase support from local churches to fund all the ministries Upper New York has committed to do. Better stewardship will not only increase funds available for Conference-wide ministry, but provide local churches support for ministry within the home congregation and the local community.
There is great hope for the future.
“We want to thank the churches that have continued to pay their Ministry Shares at 100 percent and those who are working hard to increase their support toward that goal. Together, we make amazing ministry happen!” the letter said.
If you have any questions or comments, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org. Questions will be added to a FAQ and comments will be shared with members of CF&A and CLT.
To view the 2016 budget and spending plan, click here. If you would like go deeper into the numbers, contact the Upper New York Conference Finance Ministry Area at (315) 424-7878.