Annual Conference members submitted a variety of questions regarding the budget from conference staffing to the apportionment formula, which CCFA answered before calling for a vote. Annual Conference members overwhelmingly approved it with little debate.
During the budget presentation, CCFA President Kristina Guaghan started with a confession. She explained how she learned that some members of the Annual Conference felt that CCFA was either unaware of the conference’s financial situation or ignoring it. “That is not the case. I have encouraged members of CCFA to spend more time ‘doing’ rather than ‘talking’ about the work that we do. I thought that the work we were doing was obvious by our actions, Guaghan said. “I am sorry that we caused that concern and we will try to make sure that we do a better job talking about the work that we are doing,” Guaghan said.
Nearly two years ago, CCFA realized they would not meet their budget projections for 2014 and faced a significant budget shortfall Guaghan explained. “We knew that we were not going to be able to pay our General Church Apportionments in full and we needed to ask conference leadership and program council to make adjustments to their plans and dreams for 2014,” said Guaghan. “These were not easy decisions because we knew that that this was not just about numbers and dollars but we were discussing lives and ministries that were going to be impacted.”
CCFA also created focus groups in addition to the subcommittee work that were split into income and expense categories as well as long-term and short-term focus. “As we did our work, there were a lot of conversations around ‘what do we want from the Annual Conference?’ which we shared with Conference leadership and they advanced that to become the work that they led us through with the Landscape process,” said Guaghan. “One of the reasons we requested a special session of Annual Conference last year to approve the 2016 budget was because we wanted to get a better understanding of our reality and bring forth a budget that was realistic and attainable.”
Those realities include spending that has dropped from an average of $8 million to $6.6 million. The 2017 budget of $6.6 million is a 28% decrease from just four years ago when the budget’s highest point was $9.2 million in 2012.
Guaghan concluded with thanking the churches, which were able, to pay their apportionments in full and received 100% paid certificates. We also thank Guaghan for her years on CCFA as she rotates off this quadrennium. For more information on the budget and CCFA visit www.umcnic.org/finance.
Red Door Fund Update
One of the ways the conference has worked to ease the financial pressures of debt in local churches was to help reduce mortgage costs. In the 2013 Special Session, the Red Door Fund in partnership with Wintrust Bank was created. Twenty-six congregations are participants and the Red Door Fund board estimates local churches have saved $750,000 in mortgage costs since the inception. Each church has made every payment and there’s $300,000 in reserves, which is an excess of two months of total re-payments. An additional mortgage payment to Wintrust of $850,000 was also made in February which means, the conference is on track to pay off the Wintrust mortgage two years earlier than originally projected.
This pie chart shows the major categories of the 2017 budget. Of the total, 29% of our budget is for our general church apportionments; 19% is for programs, meetings and events, including the cost of the Annual Conference meeting; 13% is for support to the clergy including Board of Ordained Ministries, some of the district superintendents costs and clergy relocation costs; 20% is for support to the local churches which includes some of the costs for the district superintendents, interventions, local church assistance and new faith communities; and 19% is for conference committees and administrative expenses including such things as Board of Trustees, legal and audit fees and office occupancy.