A Budget Message from Conference Council on Finance & Administration:
2020 Budget Reduction Will Reallocate More Money for Bearing Fruit in Local Church Mission Fields
To: East Ohio Pastors, Congregations, and Faith Communities,
We celebrate the commitment of our local churches that faithfully paid 100% of their apportionments. As we work together to bear fruit for God’s Kingdom, the Conference Council on Finance and Administration (CF&A) is continually attentive to how we are allotting funds for ministry. Our Conference can accomplish a great deal through shared ministry that local churches could not accomplish on their own, and at the same time we recognize that the most critical investments for ministry are those made at the local church.
After a thorough review of financial trends in East Ohio and beyond, CF&A has concluded that the Conference budget for the five apportioned funds should be reduced in 2020 by 5%. The basic purpose of the budget reduction is to reallocate available dollars so that local churches will have more available for their respective mission fields. CF&A will continue to monitor trends and will make additional reductions in the Conference budget as necessary over the next quadrennium.
The last major reduction in the five apportioned funds in the East Ohio Conference budget was a 19% reduction over four years, 2003-2006. Since that time, over a span of 14 years, the total budget for the five shared ministry funds has not increased. The hope was that if the Conference budget stayed the same, local church budgets over time would increase, so that more churches could pay their apportionments in full, and churches could also put more dollars to work in their communities.
But demographics and cultural trends in East Ohio have prevented that from happening. Many of our communities are experiencing a static or decreasing population of increasing age, while average church attendance in the culture at large is declining. The financial impact of these trends is that local church budgets on average have not increased for 12 years.
In the East Ohio Conference, local church expenditures reached a peak in 2007, slid through the Great Recession, rebounded slightly, and then plateaued at a level somewhat lower than the 2007 high. Likewise, pay-in rates toward apportionments declined through the Great Recession, then rebounded, and actually continued to climb through 2014, supporting the hope that churches were finding ways to increasingly support shared ministry. But since 2014, the pay-in rate toward the five shared ministry funds has steadily declined – from 83.4% (2014) to 83.2% (2015) to 82.3% (2016) to 81.1% (2017) to a projected 80.2% in 2018. Clearly, many churches are having difficulty finding the funds for ministry. It is for this reason that CF&A will be proposing a 2020 budget reduction at Annual Conference.
This move in East Ohio corresponds with actions in the General Church. The General Council on Finance and Administration (GCFA) recently did a study on the question of apportionment sustainability; the study projected a broad-scale decline nationwide in the dollars available for local church ministry. Any particular local church, of course, could buck that trend; but based on the overall expectation, the General Church is expecting to reduce General Church apportionments by 4-5% per year over the next quadrennium, for a total reduction during the quadrennium of 18%. Note that this projection was made before the upcoming Special Session of General Conference.
In East Ohio, CF&A expects that the budget cuts in 2020 will primarily be in Fund I (our missions funding), while budget cuts in 2021 and 2022 will primarily be in Funds II and IV (administrative expenses). More details will be forthcoming at Annual Conference, but this communication is so that our church leaders can know that actions are being taken to further support the ministry of the local church, so that we can all most-effectively fulfill the mission of the Church and bear fruit that lasts.
Rev. David Palmer Vera Rebrovich, CPA
Chairperson, CF&A Director, Financial and Administrative Services
Who sets the apportioned Shared Ministry amounts?
Local church lay and clergy members of the East Ohio Conference must approve all budget items at Annual Conference. The amount we vote to support at Annual Conference is then “apportioned,” with each church in East Ohio asked to pay its fair share of what the conference voted to fund.
How is a church’s apportioned Shared Ministry fund amount calculated?
Apportionments are figured only on the amount of money a church spends on itself for programming, operations and salaries. Church membership is no longer part of the formula.
What happens if we do not pay our Shared Ministry funds?
Some mission or ministry of our church that is being done in Christ’s name is either cut back or eliminated.
The main way we support the ministries of the church is through our apportioned funds, a method of giving that proportionally allocates the churchwide budget to conferences and local churches.
The East Ohio Conference Office:
located in North Canton, OH,
near Akron-Canton Airport.
8800 Cleveland Ave. NW.
North Canton, OH 44720
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