CLT and CFA announce changes to 2016 spending plan
Editor’s note: The following letter was released by the Conference Leadership Team and the Conference Council on Finance and Administration on Feb. 22.
Sisters and brothers in Christ,
We want to share some challenges, concerns, and, by the grace of God, opportunities for our Conference in the area of financial stewardship.
As we finalized the total of Conference Ministry Shares collected in 2015 from local churches, we became aware that there continues to be a significant gap between the dollars needed for the ministries we have committed to do and the funds available to do them.
Last year at the Annual Conference session, Conference members approved a budget designed to help us live within our means even as we sought to equip Conference leaders and congregations for the work of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. However, once again, Ministry Share receipts came in at a lower level than the prior year, forcing difficult choices to be made about how to make do with less.
While financial stewardship through our Ministry Shares giving has declined overall, it is not all bad news. 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. 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!
Unfortunately, nearly one-third of Upper New York churches are paying below 100 percent – many well below – and a fair number are not paying any Ministry Shares at all. This has limited our ability to adequately support ministries in the budget, and the time has come for some very painful decisions.
According to our Conference’s governance structure, the Conference Leadership Team is authorized to act on behalf of the Annual Conference between sessions. Working with the Council on Finance and Administration – the team responsible for overseeing the well-being of Conference finances – the Conference Leadership Team has developed a 2016 spending plan to manage Conference expenditures based on the assumption we will not have all the dollars we need to fully fund our budget. To accomplish this, we were once again forced to change ministries formally categorized as “fixed” expenditures (i.e., fully funded) or “variable” expenditures (i.e., partially funded) to categories receiving less or, in several cases, no funding in the coming year.
The process of making these decisions has been very painful. There were no easy answers. The guiding principle in making these decisions was, “What cuts will have the least direct impact on the ministry of the local church?” In the end, we feel we made the right decisions, but nobody on the Conference Leadership Team or the Conference CF&A is happy with the results.
We pray that Ministry Share receipts will exceed expectations in 2016, resulting in the restoration of some elements of our ministries that have become unfunded in the current spending plan.
In closing, 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!
To review the spending plan, click here.
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 CFA and CLT.
Grace and peace,
Nathan Trost, on behalf of the Conference Leadership Team
Lawrence Lake, on behalf of CF&A