Written by Michelle May
Acknowledging a continuing decline in basic support to its general budget, United Church of Christ delegates this morning approved a national allocation of $7.1 million for 2012 and $6.8 million for 2013.
"It is unfortunate that the economic recovery has been slow and unemployment has remained high," said UCC Chief Financial Officer Kathy Houston. "The national setting has not been immune to these realities."
Annual National Basic Support are funds provided by individuals, congregations and conferences through Our Church's Wider Mission (OCWM) giving. Revenue to support the national setting also comes from other sources such as investments, endowments and program and services fees.
The national setting also receives "special support" through four designated offerings: Neighbors In Need, One Great Hour of Sharing, Strengthen the Church and the Christmas Fund. All, except for Strengthen the Church, experienced declines since 2009.
Houston noted that in 1999, when General Synod approved the budget for the new national structure, the amount allocated for national basic support was $12.3 million. A consequence of declining support has been a reduction of staff members at the national setting, elimination of some programs and fewer grants to agencies and individuals. Huston added that "faithful stewardship of our resources and care for the future viability of the national setting are high priorities."
The decline in national basic support has also created challenges for the church's 38 regional conferences, which also rely upon basic support gifts to fund certain administrative, and program costs. "The partnership between the conferences and the national setting for OCWM fundraising continues to be strengthened," Huston reported "and a refocusing of efforts to strengthen local churches for fuller partnership in the whole ministry of the church is in process."