Annual church reporting going green
This year, congregations of the United Church of Christ are doing their annual data reporting online, helping the wider church become more environmentally and economically sustainable by saving paper and the time and resources of conferences and associations.
“We, as an office, are moving away from paper reporting so we can be more environmentally sustainable in the long-run,” said the Rev. Kristina Lizardy-Hajbi, director of the UCC’s Center for Analytics, Research & Data (CARD).
Each year, churches are asked to submit their updated data—including contact information, membership, the number of people in worship, and financial figures to the denomination. This year the deadline for churches to file this report is midnight March 9.
“That information they submit helps us to determine trends, not only for this year, but also to track trends over time—membership, attendance and financial contributions,” Lizardy-Hajbi said.
This is the first year that all data reporting is being done online. Last year, churches had the option to report their information online or via paper forms.
The data is used in publishing the annual Yearbook and Directory of the UCC, which the UCC and its predecessor bodies have done since the 1930s, listing the denomination’s conferences, congregations and ministers. The data goes a long way in helping various UCC settings examine trends in attendance, provide appropriate resources for ministry, and even determine how many delegates a conference can designate for General Synod.
“Our move to Access UCC, our online subscription directory we’ve done for a few years, was an intentional move to be more sustainable,” Lizardy-Hajbi said. “Our sales have increased significantly in the last year-and-a-half to Access UCC. So we know more people are using that resource.”
A user-friendly update to the reporting software for 2014 has helped conferences and associations of the UCC manage the reporting process more easily. They can now instantly print detailed reports about their churches and ministers—something that wasn’t available in the old system—dating back 11 years. CARD has also created a PDF user guide and several video tutorials, providing guidance to churches on how to update information in the database.
Churches can complete their data reporting using their unique church ID at datahub.ucc.org. In addition to tracking trends and helping the church allocate resources, there are other reasons why data reporting is important, which Lizardy-Hajbi wrote about on CARD’s blog, “Vital Signs & Statistics.”
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