Budget still a work in progress for United Methodist agencies
(UMNS) -The group charged with recommending the operational program and
missions budget for the United Methodist Church applauded the progress
denominationwide agencies have made so far to streamline their budgets
and suggest ways to work together more efficiently in the coming 2005-08
Still, finance officers and program agency
executives left a July 11 Program and Budget Consultation without a
final meeting of the minds on how critical ministries of the church
could be done within the budget constraints posed by a tight world
economy and a slump in giving by United Methodist congregations.
issue during the consultation was the proposed distribution of World
Service Funds to the denomination's eight program agencies for 2005-08.
(World Service Funds, which come from offerings taken in local United
Methodist congregations, fund the bulk of the denomination's national
and international missions.) Challenged by a sluggish economy, the
agencies were asked two months ago to look for ways to trim their
budgets, reduce duplication of efforts, consolidate similar tasks and
staff responsibilities and still accomplish the church's worldwide
The consultation included staff executives and
financial officers of the program agencies, members of the General
Council on Ministries, which coordinates churchwide programs, and the
General Council on Finance and Administration (GFCA), which must
recommend the entire denominational budget to the United Methodist
legislative assembly, the 2004 General Conference, next spring.
the daylong meeting, Sue Sherbrooke of Seattle, a GCFA voting member,
affirmed the agencies' work toward meeting the goal laid out in May.
"You took seriously our request," she said. "There is a lot to like and a
lot to build on" in what was submitted.
Questions about specific
agency plans for the next four years and beyond were directed to the
top executives after GCFA members first reviewed agency reports and
Many of their queries had to do with how the
agency proposals relate to better serving United Methodist
congregations. The Rev. Karen Greenwaldt, top executive of the
churchwide Board of Discipleship, said hers is the only church agency
focused exclusively on equipping local churches.
however, urged the group to think of service to congregations in broad
terms, not just on the nuts and bolts of operating a single church. "We
are not a congregational church; we are a connectional church," observed
the Rev. Bruce Robbins, staff head of the agency charged with relating
to other denominations and faiths. He reminded the group that the United
Methodist Council of Bishops had lamented "creeping congregationalism"
among some groups in the denomination and urged caution in thinking
about what it means to serve a local church or annual conference.
member Don House of Bryan, Texas, urged the group to consider the needs
of the church beyond mere dollars and cents, especially in an era when
membership is declining in a growing population, giving among United
Methodists is below the average for Protestants, 43 percent of United
Methodist congregations took in no new members on profession of faith in
2001 and when the Sunday schools are deteriorating.
in this together," said the Rev. Don Avery, a GCFA member from Baton
Rouge, La. "I have confidence in the agencies. I have confidence in the
people around the table (at this meeting)." But he went on to say he
wanted more information from the agencies before making a final budget
Collectively, GCFA members participating in the
July 11 consultation were not satisfied with all the agency reports. The
agencies were asked again to address the concerns about fulfilling the
church's mission objectives, to reduce administrative costs and to
develop a four-year plan as part of a longer-range strategy to address
program priorities. These were the criteria laid out by GCFA for
determining whether the recommended program portion of the World Service
budget would total $222 million for the next four-year period or drop
back to $186 million
At the end of the day, the task was not
complete. The work will be taken up again when the two councils meet
simultaneously in September. After the members of the Program and Budget
Consultation complete their review of that that part of the budget, the
GCFA voting members will consider the entire financial proposal for
2005-08. They will then recommend a denominationwide budget to the 2004
General Conference, April 27-May 7, in Pittsburgh.
participants at the July meeting said they need the new material in
their hands by Aug. 15 in order to study it adequately. Translation and
printing deadlines for General Conference are looming this fall, putting
time pressure on the church's boards and agencies.
# # #
Back : News Archives 2003 Main
“We believe in God and in each other.”The people of The United Methodist Church
Still Have Questions?
If you have any questions Ask
Purchase a $20 buzzkill t-shirt and help save a life
Buy a t-shirt