From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
Church finance agency seeks new level of efficiency
Fri, 23 May 2003 12:14:47 -0500
May 23, 2003 News media contact: Joretta Purdue7(202)
NORCROSS, Ga. (UMNS) - Efficiency and streamlining have become bywords as the
United Methodist Church's financial agency works on the denomination's budget
proposal for 2005-08.
The weak U.S. economy and decreasing contributions have added to the
challenge of that task.
Meeting May 19-22, the General Council on Finance and Administration stressed
the importance of finding new ways to help the church fulfill its mission
while spending less on administration. Besides working on the budget for the
denomination's next four-year period of work, the GCFA also discussed a step
it's considering to cut costs: consolidating operations to Nashville, Tenn.
The GCFA voting directors held their once-every-four-years spring meeting at
Simpsonwood, the North Georgia Annual (regional) Conference retreat center.
Their primary goal was to set bottom-line budget figures for the next
quadrennium in preparation for their joint meeting this fall with the
denomination's program coordinating agency, the General Council on
At that Sept. 5-8 meeting in Los Angeles, the GCFA and Council on Ministries
directors will flesh out the 2005-08 budget proposal. The proposal will go to
the denomination's top legislative assembly, the 2004 General Conference,
which meets in Pittsburgh April 27-May 7. General Conference meets every four
GCFA approved $222 million for World Service Fund, which supports the
church's program agencies for mission and ministry. This piece of the budget
recommendation is contingent on a proposal from the General Council on
Ministries and the program agencies, providing details on how the money will
be used more efficiently.
Their report, due in July, should retain "all missional objectives as
outlined in the Book of Discipline" while streamlining operations and
providing a 12-year plan "to address the priorities previously identified by
the agencies and GCOM." Those priorities include such items as recruitment
and training of new clergy, global mission and spiritual growth of laity,
according to GCFA.
If such a report is not provided to the joint meeting, or if it shows a
business-as-usual mentality, GCFA directors said the World Service Fund
recommendation in the next quadrennium's preliminary budget will fall to $186
The $222 million figure is included in the $595 million total for all the
seven churchwide apportioned funds in the budget proposal that will go to
Besides World Service, those churchwide funds include three for designated
outreach - Africa University, Black College and Ministerial Education - and
three for administration. The administration funds include the Episcopal Fund
for the support of the bishops; General Administration Fund for holding
General Conference, supporting administrative agencies, such as GCFA, and
other churchwide functions, such as communications or archives; and the
Interdenominational Cooperation Fund for ecumenical work.
In looking at the efficiency of its own operations, GCFA moved forward with a
proposal to consolidate its Evanston, Ill., offices into its Nashville
offices by the end of 2005. The directors authorized spending up to $50,000
on the professional services of an architect or other relocation specialists.
The GCFA Location Task Force had calculated expected long-term savings of
more than $652,000 annually. GCFA estimated reaching the break-even point in
eight to 13 years, depending on the amount realized in the sale of the
agency's interest in the Evanston building, the cost of the combined facility
and the rate of financing on the balance needed. The Evanston building is
co-owned with the denomination's Board of Pension and Health Benefits.
In other business, the directors:
7 Heard a presentation from the General Council on Ministries on its
"Living into the Future" proposal for the structure of the denomination.
7 Reduced the previously approved salary increase for bishops in the
United States from 7.9 percent to 4 percent of current levels.
7 Froze office expenses for the denomination's bishops at 2003 levels
because reserves have been depleted.
7 Agreed to require annual audits of GCFA funds provided to episcopal
7 Authorized funding for its directors to attend the second week of
General Conference and authorized its executive committee to act for the
whole agency during the first week of that event as needed.
7 Approved mostly editorial legislative changes to be proposed to
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United Methodist News Service
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