By Linda Gastreich
While it came near the end of his report, Tom Hilton, Chair of Conference Finance and Administration, delivered some welcome news to delegates on Saturday morning. Conference Finance and Administration (CF&A) asked for approval of a 2015 budget some $98,000 or .7 percent less than the previous year. Hilton credited much of the decrease to a surprising notice from the General Church Finance and Administration that the amount due for General Church Support had been reduced by nearly $72,000 or 1.8 percent.
Among the Conference budget changes outlined by Hilton was a 2.4 percent increase in District Superintendent salaries. In two of the last five years, superintendents and conference directors have voted to take no salary increase. The budget has been adjusted to align with the Conference’s highest priorities. Congregational Excellence has been given a proposed budget of just under $1.8 million. Pastoral Excellence a recommended budget of slightly more than $800,000. The proposed budget includes a rather dramatic swing between Connectional Ministries and Pastoral Excellence. Salary dollars freed up from Connectional Ministries are being redeployed to fund the new Catalyst for Next Generation Ministries initiative.
Adherence to the budget depends on how well local churches attend to their apportionments. Hilton celebrated that last year, 620 churches paid 100 percent of their apportionments, and 18 churches paid over and above their apportioned amount. Hilton was pleased to announce that the Southeast District had the highest payout percentage of 95.9 percent, just edging out the Mid-State District, which has led the Conference in apportionment payouts for the past several years. Hilton reminded delegates that the apportionment formula is based on what a church spends on itself—salaries, program expenses and operating expenses. Not included in the formula is a church’s expenditures on missions, capital improvements and the number of people on the membership roles.
Hilton also highlighted that the construction project which is adding to the conference office will not add anything to the 2015 apportionments. It is anticipated that mortgage and operating costs will be offset by eliminating current office rental expenses and outside income for rental of some of the space in the expanded facility.
Moving policy provides for partial reimbursement to churches in the instance of a regular move. This amount is increased for 2014 to $1,500. This amount will also be available for moves required by a special circumstance. The motion to accept these changes was passed.
Changes made to the Policies and Procedures of the Council on Finance and Administration were presented for final approval.
A process for apportioning newly established churches has been rewritten and is more comprehensive. No new church will be required to pay apportionments until chartered and then on an annually increasing basis, increasing by 25 percent, reaching 100 percent by its fourth year of being chartered.
Other changes included noting that in 2014 the Conference Reserve fund stood at 9.56 percent of the 10 percent required, or $1,325,431. All changes as presented were passed by the Conference.
Hilton ended his presentation of the proposed 2015 budget by highlighting an ongoing record of spending controls put in place by CF&A in recent years. Hilton said, “We feel (this budget) properly reflects our priorities and aligns our resources with the mission of the conference.” Hilton added, “We feel it’s a budget that will allow us to continue effectively pursuing the mission.”
The proposed budget was passed on Monday morning with no discussion and a vote that was unanimous or nearly unanimous.
Hilton thanked Rev. Nate Berneking, director of Financial Administrative Ministries, the Conference staff and the committee members who gave so much time and expertise to this important work of the Conference.