The new year is well underway, and I am doing my best to look forward in my leadership as we step into the process of transition and new horizons. The Finance and Stewardship team (F&S) is beginning the process of drawing up next year’s budget, exploring new ways to promote generosity in the local churches that will then translate to the conference and the national setting, addressing the shortfalls we have experienced in our income, and listening to the needs of the council and the local churches for direction and focus. We have a new team filled with passionate people that are ready to face the challenges that lay ahead.
In order to look forward we must first make sure we are settled in the past. To that end, if you follow this link, you will find the closing books of the conference for the 2019 financial year. You can also find comparison of the 2018 and 2019 OCM at this link. As you can see on the Revenue and Expense Report we were short significantly on Our Churches Wider Mission giving Budget to Actual. And as I have been pointing out for some years we gained false savings on the Health and Dental line. We have been using the difference of the cost of full health coverage for the Conference Minter and her or his family and the actual cost of the chosen health coverage for our Conference Minister and her family as a slush fund to create dollars that otherwise would have been used up. We also gained this year on the Staff Travel line. We can thank our C.M. for her astute management for that. And even with those two gains, you will note on the Income from Reserves line we had to use some of that budgeted money to bring our books to Zero this year. Overall, 2019 was a tough year financially.
To that end, I urge each of you to speak up in your local churches to the value of increasing OCWM giving as a church. We continue to open up more and more programming for our local churches but that requires dollars and the majority of our dollars comes from OCWM giving. Also I humbly ask each of you to consider giving personally to The Friends of the Conference effort. This an opportunity for each of us to contribute to the health and well-being of our local churches and to service stewardship in a financial capacity; to show generosity.
As I have offered before, I am happy to come to your local church, if it makes sense, to discuss OCWM giving or Friends of the Conference support or to speak to an attitude of Generosity as a foundation for stewardship in all its facets. I also am available to answer your questions as well.
While we had a tough year in 2019, I am excited about the possibility of the future not only for F&S but for our conference as a whole. It will be tough to make a plan that will live up to the bar that Edith has set and it is true that change is scary and can be hard, but the bright lights of a new horizon are beginning to emerge and with those emerging lights come new possibilities, hopes, and surely blessings. Through it all we know we have God on our side and Jesus as our guide. I ask you; how can we fail? Thank you for your love and care of our beloved church and God’s
Blessings to you and yours.
Mark Van Dorn Treasurer, Kansas Oklahoma Conference of the United Church of Christ.