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    The Upper New York Conference of The United Methodist Church


    news article

    CF&A’s budget is the toolbox of our Conference

    June 7, 2019 / By Kathleen Christiansen

    On June 7 during the 2019 Upper New York Annual Conference session, Chair of the Conference Council on Finance and Administration (CF&A), the Rev. Susan Ranous, told the crowd that a budget does nothing more than tell stories that show how it can support the ministries of the local churches of the Upper New York Conference by offering tools for ministry.

    She asked everyone to picture a toolbox, one that holds a hammer, screwdriver, wrench, and a few other tools.

    “This budget is just like that toolbox,” Rev. Ranous said. “The toolbox isn’t the point … The point is the use of the tools.”

    She recalled these lessons from her father:

    • Don’t use a hammer to turn a screw.
    • Don’t use a large wrench to fix a watch.
    • Don’t use a screwdriver to hammer in a nail.

    “The proper tool is important, but even more important, is how you use it,” she said. “The right tool used in the right way means that the work we’re trying to do can be accomplished.”

    The narrative Ministry Shares Budget (pages 18 and 19 of the Narrative Budget Booklet) describes all the tools that equip, enhance, and extend ministries to support Conference leadership and allow the work of churches and faith communities to advance.

    “It’s only working together that we can fill our toolbox with the proper tools, that we can maintain those tools in good working order, and that we can use the right tools for the right job,” she said.

    Rev. Ranous said “CF&A has been busy since the last time we were together here at Annual Conference.”

    Part of that work was crafting the Narrative Budget Booklet – which contains the 2020 Ministry Shares Budget. And a request from last year’s AC session was fulfilled: A new column with 2018 “actual” numbers was added to the budget.

    Other parts of that work involved developing the CF&A webpage on the Conference website, selecting new Conference Treasurer Bob Flask, and working with other Conference staff on the asset allocation project.

    “Thanks to many hours of work by your finance staff and others, we’ve been able to identify all funds coming from the prior conferences,” Rev. Ranous said. “An investment policy has been created and approved, and an investment committee has been formed … to review our investments and how they are invested on an ongoing basis.”

    While the collection for 2018 Ministry Shares was less than the prior year and less than what the Conference requires to cover the 2019 spending plan, UNY General Church apportionments did not suffer.

    “I want to thank all the faithful servants that are members of our local churches, the disciples of Jesus Christ, that have enabled the Upper New York Conference of The United Methodist Church to do the work that God is calling us to do,” Rev. Ranous said, as she announced CF&A decided to pay General Church apportionments in full. “ … If we are to ask for that commitment from our local churches, then we also had to be willing to make that same commitment to the General Church.”

    GCF&A used excess funds from a prior year to cover the difference, making it the third year in a row that the UNY Conference has paid in full. Rev. Ranous marked the accomplishment by gifting a plaque to Upper New York Area Resident Bishop Mark J. Webb.

    “That plaque, is for all of us because none of us are able to do the work that God calls us to alone,” Rev. Ranous said.   

    Rev. Ranous presented the budget for approval.

    The Rev. Robin Blair, pastor of the Harmony and Ithaca: Forest Home UMCs asked how to inquire about additional funds available to Higher Education Ministry and elaboration on why district superintendent compensation fluctuated in the documentation, and lay member David Kennedy asked for clarification on budget funds relating to staff.

    After explanation from the Assistant to the Bishop and Director of Connectional Ministries the Rev. Bill Gottschalk-Fielding, Rev. Ranous, and Flask, the budget was voted upon and approved.

    Rev. Ranous concluded by thanking Bishop Webb, Rev. Gottschalk-Fielding, CF&A members, Flask, and the finance team for their service.

    TAGGED / Annual Conference 2019


    With more than 168,000 members, the Upper New York Annual (Regional) Conference of The United Methodist Church comprises 865 local churches and 91 new faith communities in 12 districts, covering 48,000 square miles in 49 of the 62 counties in New York state. Our mission is to “live the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to be God’s love with our neighbors in all places."