Collegium: Collaboration was key to hard choices
The national setting of the United Church of Christ has made significant programming, staffing and budget decisions over the last two years that have put the office in a better position to serve the wider church in the most effective, faithful and efficient ways possible, according to the denomination’s president.
That statement led a presentation by the four national officers of the church to the General Synod, gathering from June 26-30 in Cleveland, as they shared their thoughts on the ways God’s spirit is moving across the UCC.
“Every major area of our national program across all of the covenanted ministries has been carefully analyzed, scrutinized, challenged, changed, and strengthened in order to maximize our impact, increase our effectiveness, and ensure the best use of the dollars entrusted to us,” said the Rev. Geoffrey A. Black, general minister and president.
The officers reminded the General Synod that the national setting is operating on a balanced budget, cutting $3.1 million from its expenses in a little more than a year, and is on target to finish 2015 without the need to draw additional funds from its investments beyond the approved amount (5 percent).
“I’m not sure there has ever been a time when someone could stand before this Synod and make such a statement,” said the Rev. M. Linda Jaramillo, executive minister of Justice and Witness Ministries. “Without the unified governance structure—that this body so courageously brought into being over our past few gatherings—it would have been nearly impossible to get to this place where a new day of financial transparency and fiscal maturity is possible.”
The national office is now staffed by 115 people, less than half the number of employees of 15 years ago. But the Rev. J. Bennett Guess reminded General Synod and guests that the employees at 700 Prospect Ave. “deeply love this church and are personally and professionally committed to furthering our vision and mission, each excelling in a particular area of work that is critical to our organizational effectiveness,” he said. “In many ways, we are a leaner staff, yes, but we believe we might just be an even more effective, efficient and accountable workplace today.”
To offset some of the reductions to the budget, the officers took action in the area of financial development by investing resources toward stewardship and fundraising to create a new Office of Philanthropy and Stewardship. In addition, more than $370,000 was raised to support new and renewing churches and $340,000 to support international and domestic mission.
“Over the course of the last biennium, the dollar value of the national setting’s invested funds grew by well over $18 million,” said the Rev. James Moos, executive minister of Wider Church Ministries. “We are deeply committed to being good stewards of all that we have been entrusted with so that the United Church of Christ can engage in faithful ministry and mission now and in the future.”
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