The Budget Team has completed its work.
According to the Rev. Bill Poland, Budget Team Chair and Director of New Communities of Faith, several recommendations
have been reviewed and approved by the Bishop’s Operational Team, the Cabinet Operational Team, the Conference Connectional Ministries Council and the Council on Finance and Administration.
Poland notes that one of the questions that the Budget Team continued to ask all the way through its meetings was how to become a better-connected church.
“We have to rise to a higher level and commitment as a connectional church,” Poland said. “That means our connection to one another. We can work together to rediscover at its heart our spiritual connection to each other as congregations and to our mission as the church to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”
Poland suggests “as those partnerships are formed, we will be able to do ministry where those involved in them will be more invested, and it’s likely those ministries will be more effective.”
One of the approved recommendations is a move from eight district offices to four bi-district offices, each with a district administrative assistant. This would enable the conference to keep eight districts and eight superintendents. An announcement will be made at a later date regarding where the bi-district offices will be located, and who the four district administrative assistants will be.
“We recognize there is pain in these decisions,” Poland said, addressing the reduction from eight to four district administrative assistants. “These are persons that are serving people faithfully in the local districts and their work matters. Where we are financially has consequences that are painful, and we're having to make some difficult decisions that are painful.”
Another change has been the transfer of the current Central District Administrative Assistant, Wendy Lubkeman, to a new position as Executive Secretary of the Appointive Cabinet. In her new position, Lubkeman will take over some administrative work during the appointive process, arranging clergy housing moves, and releasing appointment notifications, and will report to Assistant to the Bishop Harlan Gillespie. Previously, this work has been done several persons throughout the conference staff, including the district administrative assistants and the former position held by Sara Carlson as administrative assistant to the assistant to the bishop.
As for conference ministries, the original recommendation to reduce apportioned funding to the Board of Higher Education and Campus Ministries from $544,933 to $44,933 has been amended. The new reduction is to $200,000. A document from the Budget Committee states that this is to address a request made by the Board of Higher Education to give them “more time to adjust to a new reality.”
This is one of the decisions that will be approved on the floor of the Annual Conference, through the discussion of the 2020 Conference Budget. The Conference Council on Finance and Administration, in collaboration with the Conference Connectional Ministries Council, has approved a budget of $13,127,917 for 2020, a decrease 8.1 percent from the 2019 budget.
As to how we need to create this “new future” in the church, Poland suggests a shift in how staff at the local, conference and general church level resource those doing ministry.
“How do we invite everyone, not just to contribute their money, but to contribute their time and their talents and their giftedness as well, so that we can do this together?” Poland asked. “That's the kind of shift that we have to make that I believe, in the long term, is going to be very healthy for all of us. Most importantly for the sake of our mission and God's reign among us.”
But that means “every person in the pew” is going to have to make a decision, Poland added.
“They need to ask themselves, ‘How am I willing to choose differently so that I can be a part of that, or so that I can contribute to that?’ rather than thinking ‘that's what we pay the preacher or the Christian Educator for’, it has to be all of us working together to make a difference.”
A detailed list of the recommendations and questions received at each of the Budget Team Listening Sessions will also be released at a later date. Click here to read the report from the Budget Team to the Council on Finance and Administration.