NCJ 2016 Treasurer’s Report
A look at the NCJ Audit (in this workbook) and our June 30, 2016 financial statement (handed out) will reveal that the NCJ has well over $600,000 on-hand.
This is the only job I’ve ever held where I have to apologize for making money.
But, of course, the object of the NCJ Treasury is not to make money. The object is to facilitate mission. I would just want to remind the delegates that this money won’t go away. At some point, it will be used to facilitate mission and, we hope, will be effective in helping to make Disciples for Jesus Christ.
The budgetary surplus is a result of three factors:
- The extraordinary apportionment support from the NCJ Annual Conferences
- Budget surplus from the last quadrennium that carried over to 2013-2017
- A reduction in spending activity among several NCJ-supported ministries
- Apportionment receipts: Annual conferences have just been outstanding in their support of the NCJ Apportionments. At this writing, most are current in their apportionment payments. At the end of 2015, all the conferences were current except for one. We fully expect that at the end of this quadrennium, all conferences will have paid 100%, just like they did at the end of the last quadrennium.
- Last quadrennium’s budget surplus: A former NCJ treasurer informed me that there would be a run on unspent budget line items at the end of the 2012 quadrennium. For whatever reason, that didn’t happen. I had predicted that we would have $50,000 cash in-hand on January 1, 2013. Instead, it was closer to $350,000. That factor alone explains most of the current surplus. So the question becomes, “Will we see the ministry groups crank up at the end of 2016?” Since the financial year doesn’t end until December 31, 2016, it remains to be seen.
- Reduction in spending activity: I will not try to analyze why, but it seems like interest is waning in Jurisdictional ministries. There was a time when we could count on folks traveling long distances, meeting for days, and taking an interest in multi-state ministry efforts. This does not seem to be that time. At this writing, there were some groups that didn’t get off the ground in this quadrennium. Others had less activity than anticipated at budget-setting time. Some were just downright thrifty – and the treasurer appreciates that. Once again, however, the question becomes, “What happens between now and December 31, 2016?”
Here are some things to celebrate:
- The financial policies which were put in place by the 2012 NCJ Conference have been wholly successful, I believe. We have come a long way in IRS compliance and in sound financial accountability.
- I was astonished to discover that the NCJ had no insurance. I think we had assumed that GCFA provided some insurance protection. That is not the case. So I hope it is comforting to the delegates to know that you are now insured. The insurance is not very expensive, but it would be crazy not to have it.
- The NCJ books are being audited annually now as required by the Book of Discipline. The audit complies with GAAP standards and a copy of the 2015 audit is included in this workbook. The audit found no deficiencies.
I hope you will remember that in 2012, the Mission Council agreed to underwrite the expenses of an ad-hoc task force which was created to examine jurisdictional structures. This, and two other unbudgeted expenses (insurance and audit) will probably take the Mission Council over budget, especially when the expenses of the fall 2016 organizational meeting are realized.
I will be laying down the mantle of the NCJ Treasurer on December 31, 2016. I am especially grateful for your patience with me and for many new friendships. There are wonderful people all throughout the Jurisdiction whom I would have never met had it not been for this opportunity. Thank you very much for these last eight years.
SUPPORT FOR THE NEW BUDGET APPROACH
As the outgoing treasurer, I want to encourage your support for the new approach to funding jurisdictional ministries, as reflected in the proposed budget.
I think that when various jurisdictional ministries began, they were bold, fresh, innovative and probably lacking support from annual conference budgets. So, when support emerged from the NCJ, it provided an opportunity for wonderful and helpful ministries to get off the ground floor.
I’m not sure that it was ever the intent of the jurisdiction to provide perpetual financial support to various ministries for past decades and decades to come.
Further, we find that our connections to some of the ministries under the jurisdictional umbrella have lost their vitality. The Mission Council set up a “liaison” system which has had limited success. No one is to blame. I think everyone has tried to do their best, but communications have been difficult. We have lost touch with each other. Even the Mission Council meetings themselves are poorly attended.
Everybody I have met within the jurisdictional connection are warm, loving, mission-driven and responsible people. But, by nature, our systems lack the kind of accountability we would expect to find at the local church or conference level. Donors want to know – beyond a shadow of a doubt – that their contributions are making a difference.
The budgetary paradigm proposed by the Mission Council is an effort to return to a time when the Jurisdiction provided start-up funds for exciting and innovative emerging ministries that have a jurisdiction-wide impact. It also envisions continuing support for projects proposed by the current established ministries.
Funds would be distributed on the basis of grant applications, carefully considered by the elected members of your Mission Council. So, a project would have an application, a beginning, an end, and an evaluation.
A key part of the proposal is to involve the Directors of Connectional Ministries (DCMs) in each conference in an advisory role. This will give them the ability to integrate jurisdictional funding into the overall financial support of a proposed project. Wouldn’t you want your program people involved in the program planning of the Jurisdiction?
In my eight years as NCJ Treasurer, I have spoken with DCMs, conference treasurers and even Bishops who had no idea that a jurisdictional ministry was operating within the bounds of their conference. Introducing widespread buy-in to a particular project will encourage better communication, we hope.
Further, established ministries need not be threatened by this new paradigm. Perhaps this is simplistic, but I have said that “The NCJ distributes funds to various ministries and they figure out how to spend it.” In the new paradigm, they will figure out how to spend it, and then receive the funds.
As with anything new, it will take some time to work out the kinks and become comfortable with a new way of doing things. I hope you will keep your new treasurer and your new Mission Council in your prayers and please be as patient with them as you have been with me.
Rick Van Giesen