News and Views

Stewardship remains strong throughout BWC

Posted by Erik Alsgaard on

By Erik Alsgaard

By unanimous voice vote, members of the Baltimore-Washington Conference approved the 2020 budget. Total income, spread between mission shares (apportionments) and other income, comes to $18,641,514. Total expenses equal income.

The 2020 budget is a 1.7 percent decrease over 2019, according to Phil Potter, chair of the BWC’s Commission on Finance and Administration. The benevolence factor remains the same for local churches, at 17.6 percent, while the collection rate drops from 92 to 91 percent.

The challenge for CFA, Potter said, is to sustain ministry into an uncertain future.

“Fundamental to this challenge, we must inherently know that more than 82 percent of our budget never leaves the Conference,” he said.  “That a withheld mission share impacts much needed ministry within our connection, and that attempts to hurt a particular area or person, actually hurts the whole.”

Potter said that CFA prepared a budget that is prudent and “based on solid benchmarks.” And, in case “other events” take place, he said, a number of contingency plans have been developed. CFA, he said, can leverage about 29 million dollars over four years to adjust to any shortfall.

“We don’t anticipate that to happen,” Potter said.

In response to a question from the Rev. Charles Harrell, retired, about what priorities are in place for such emergencies, Potter said that drawing-down the conference reserves would “probably” come first.

CFA vice chair, the Rev. Daryl Williams, said that the conference is still committed to paying 100 percent of its general church apportionments. The Rev. Maidstone Mulenga, who works for the Council of Bishops, asked CFA if that commitment was still true.

“We have not looked at changes in our global share,” Williams said. “We will take a full look at supporting ourselves as a conference and as a vital connection in the global church.”

The good news from Pension and Health Benefits, shared by the Rev. Carey James, was that rates for HealthFlex – the BWC’s health insurance benefit – will not increase for a third straight year.

Conference Trustee chair, John Strawbridge, updated members on the recent disaffiliation language approved at General Conference. The Disaffiliation Process, he said, has three required components:

Local Church Resolution by two-thirds majority;

written Disaffiliation Agreement; and

Annual Conference Ratification by simple majority. The BWC Disaffiliation Procedures will be issued on October 15, 2019 for guidance to Conference churches.

During the stewardship report, Charlie Moore brought greetings from Africa University and thanked the BWC for its payment of 100 percent of its apportionments. Enrollment, he said, has increased 40 percent in the past four years, and they are 98.3 percent towards a financial campaign to raise 50 million dollars.