Mission money drops, but commitment stays strong, exec says
10/24/2003 News media contact: Linda Bloom · (646) 369-3759 · New York
By Linda Bloom*
General Board of Global Ministries. Photo number W03061, Accompanies UMNS#507
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STAMFORD, Conn. (UMNS) - Two years of budget
constraints have changed how the United Methodist Board of Global
Ministries does its work, but the financial pressures have not altered
its commitment to mission, according to the agency's top executive.
Rev. R. Randy Day told board directors he believes the agency's
organizational transition "can revitalize and empower," allowing it to
"assess our assets, weigh our mission choices, and to prepare ourselves
as God's servants and witnesses for vital Christian mission in this new
Building strong and lasting relationships - with
directors, staff and mission personnel as well as annual conferences,
partner churches and other United Methodist organizations - is a key
priority, said Day, during the board's Oct. 20-23 annual meeting.
such relationships, the Board of Global Ministries hopes to attract
additional funds for its programs and partners. A decrease in
traditional income sources, most notably World Service dollars from the
denomination, continues to have an impact. The World Service Fund is the
United Methodist Church's largest pool of money for supporting
The 2004 budget already is $4 million less
than originally projected in the spring, Day noted. The revised 2004
budget is $59.2 million, excluding the separate budgets of the Women's
Division and United Methodist Committee on Relief. Because of the
decrease, all grants have been cut and no new missionaries will be
added, although he stressed that the board remains committed to
deploying new missionaries in the future.
In 2002, the entire
Board of Global Ministries had operating revenues of $128.2 million and
total expenses of $157.3 million, resulting in a $29 million deficit.
improvement occurred during the first eight months of 2003, despite a 5
percent drop in World Service income, according to Roland Fernandes,
interim board treasurer. The board itself had a 7 percent increase in
revenue, due to a boost in income from the Women's Division and the
agency's Collins Forest Fund. Total operating revenues through August
were $36.5 million and total operating expenses were $45.7 million.
operating deficit of $9.2 million for the first eight months of this
year is $3 million less than at the same time in 2002," he said. He
noted that "significant portions" of the board's income usually don't
arrive until the end of the year.
Improvement in the stock market
has brought a net appreciation of $6.5 million for board investments in
2003, compared to a net depreciation of $12.2 million for the same
period last year, Fernandes reported.
For the Women's Division,
undesignated giving by United Methodist Women had increased by 7.6
percent so far in 2003. But undesignated income for the Committee on
Relief - money from gifts and the One Great Hour of Sharing offering
used to pay for staff and other administrative expenses - dropped by 12
percent during the first eight months of 2003.
"It is not at all
encouraging to note that, so far, 2003 undesignated incomes are
significantly lower than 2002, which in turn was significantly lower
than 2001," Fernandes noted in the treasurer's report for Health and
Relief, of which the relief agency is a part. "Unless incomes increase
in the last quarter of this year, this will have a significant impact on
Although a 2004 budget of $7.9 million has
been approved for the relief agency, a further decline in income could
mean staff reductions, said the Rev. Paul Dirdak, the agency's chief
The Board of Global Ministries continues to support
some innovative mission programs and projects through its Program
Development Fund. During the October meeting, directors designated
$420,000 from the 2003 fund account and $410,000 from the 2004 fund
account. Grants from the fund include $180,000 for projects in Peru, the
Caribbean, Uruguay, Argentina and the Philippines; $100,000 as part of a
commitment to the Methodist Church of Puerto Rico; $100,000 for
consultations in the denomination's central conferences (regional units
outside the United States); and $75,000 for the Russia Initiative.
keeping with spending constraints, the directors approved three
substantial partnership fund grants, but those funds will not be
released until "capital gains assigned to this account are realized or
other sources of funding are identified (and cash flow permits)." Those
grants include $105,000 to the Argentine Evangelical Methodist Church,
$250,000 to the United Church of Christ in the Philippines and $500,000
to the United Methodist Philippines Central Conference to help implement
strategic plans for mission in those countries.
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*Bloom is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in New York.