Amid declining basic support, General Synod approves budget allocations for next biennium

Part of the work of General Synod when they met June 30-July 4 was to receive financial updates about the United Church of Christ’s national ministries and approve allocations for Synod’s operating costs for the next biennium.

Synod gatherings are funded primarily with Our Church’s Wider Mission basic support receipts budgeted over a two-year period. Additional revenue comes from event registration fees.

Tami Marinella, UCC chief financial officer, gave a two-year financial report to General Synod 34 on July 3. She explained that “75% of the National Setting’s operating costs are spent toward direct mission and vision work. The other 25% is for the operating costs that support the mission and vision work for today and for tomorrow.”

She offered gratitude for those whose donations make this work possible and highlighted the ministries of the National Setting.

“There are so many dedicated and talented people working at the National Setting, and it is my privilege to share with you how those individuals use your donations, your gifts and your support, mix in intelligence, hard work, creativity, technology and tenacity, teamwork and love to serve others and to make a difference in the world,” she said.

Watch the financial report to the 2023 General Synod in Indianapolis.

National Setting funding

Marinella shared the greatest funding sources for the UCC’s National Setting — the highest coming from the annual draw of unrestricted permanent endowments, at a rate of 4.75% of the five-year average. These draws amounted to about 37% of the budget in 2022 ($9.1 million) and 39% in 2021 ($8.3 million).

The UCC’s combined investments were $336 million in 2022 and $383 million in 2021, which include unrestricted investments that support operating costs of the covenanted ministries of the National Setting as well as endowments restricted for specific purposes, she said.

“Individuals established trusts for the benefit of our predecessor bodies and current ministries that will continue to produce financial support for annual costs into the future,” she added.

The second largest source of National Setting funding — about 20% in 2022 and 25% in 2021 — came from OCWM basic support and special mission offerings. Basic support funds have declined from about $6.4 million in 2014 to $3.8 million in 2022, according to data included in the financial report, although the 2022 numbers have not yet been audited.

A graph from the financial report shows a downward trend in national basic support from 2014-2022.

“Each congregation decides how much of its member financial support will be contributed to Our Church’s Wider Mission basic support, and we appreciate those contributions and the work it supports,” Marinella said.

Biennium budgeting

Delegates approved a Board-determined allocation of these funds for General Synod meeting expenses — $3.67 million and $3.49 million, respectively — for the 2024 and 2025 budget years.

The Rev. Derrick Elliott, chair of the finance and budget committee of the UCC Board, brought the motion to the delegates and commended Marinella and the financial team, saying that “the dedication and attention to details have helped us to be good stewards of what God and you have entrusted us.”

He added that the finance and budget committee, acting on behalf of General Synod, is responsible for determining the allocation of national basic support.

In standard procedure, the Synod delegated to the Board the percentage allocation of basic support funds that go to covenanted ministries. This gives the Board the authority to do the budget work while Synod is not in session, Elliott explained.

The complete, audited financial reports for 2020 and 2021 are available for review on the UCC website here. The 2022 audited financials will be available later this fall, according to Marinella.

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Categories: United Church of Christ News

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