Global ministries agency sees slight improvement in finances
4/11/2003 News media contact: Linda Bloom · (646) 369-3759 · New York
NOTE: This report is a sidebar to UMNS story #217.
Ala. (UMNS) - Staff Treasurer Stephen Feerrar had good news and bad
news for the financially struggling United Methodist Board of Global
With a strong fourth quarter and stringent attention
to cost control, expenses came in at $3.5 million below budget in 2002,
he told board directors during the agency's April 7-10 spring meeting.
His report did not include financial summaries for the Women's Division
or Health and Relief unit.
Steady World Service receipts, a 15
percent increase in giving to projects supporting missionaries, and a
slight improvement in the board's cash position at the end of the year
also were positive signs, he said.
But Feerrar was blunt about
upcoming financial challenges, including a further decline in asset
values. "As we continue significant cost-containment efforts, ministry
becomes more difficult, and staff is stretched thinner and thinner," he
reported. "At the same time, significant increases in health and
liability insurance costs have taken a bigger bite out of our operating
Overall revenues of $65.3 million came in at 4 percent below 2001 revenues. Budgeted revenues for 2003 are $61.3 million.
greatest reduction in board spending in 2002 came in mission personnel,
where total costs were reduced $1.4 million. That savings represented
effective cost containment and reduction of office staff, the agency
said. Cuts in missionary positions did not occur until 2003.
savings included a 40 percent reduction in expenditures for
institutions and individuals, representing dramatic cuts in grant money.
ended 2002 with 55 less GBGM staff positions in New York and numerous
programmatic needs unfulfilled in the field," Feerrar said.
treasurer pointed out that the board's total assets have declined from
$265 million to $162 million since 1999. Only $26 million of that amount
is for unrestricted use, but designations have been made for $34
million and another $6 million is a prepaid pension asset, leaving a
negative balance of $14 million. "Again, this shows the issue of
illiquidity as we would have to realize these losses if we were to sell
those assets today," he reported.
For the near future, the Board
of Global Ministries will continue to "budget conservatively and manage
our costs," and hope for a recovery in the capital markets, Feerrar
In a separate report, Connie Takamine, Women's Division
treasurer, noted that the division's total income had dropped from $30
million in 2001 to $27.9 million in 2002. The division also suffered an
11 percent decrease in the market value of its investments.
income outlook is a challenge to the Women's Division, and some dreams
may have to be delayed," she said. "But we must not let fear block us
from seeking God's mission, and follow our responsibility as followers
Revenues for the United Methodist Committee on Relief
fell by 33 percent to $47.6 million in 2002, mostly because of a drop
in giving to the Advance Special project called "Love in the Midst of
Tragedy," a response to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Net
assets stood at $34.6 million at year's end.
Fernandes, treasurer, noted that despite the shortfall of income, UMCOR
controlled its undesignated expenses and added $30,912 to its reserves.
"This is the third year in a row that we've added to our reserves," he
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