New United Church Structure – Region 9 Review, 2018

United Church, Region 9, 2018
Let’s Talk Turkey!
Happy Thanksgiving from your Executive Minister
Although Thanksgiving Day has passed, this is the time of year when we are awestruck by the abundance around us. As we plan for our future, let’s take a moment to give thanks for:

  • gifted leaders who give generously of their time;
  • the vision of a church open to transformation not just transition;
  • the wealth of resources that church has!
    • What wealth? Right now, our Presbyteries and Conferences are determining the disposition of their final assets. There is abundance across the church.

Often, we focus on abundance as a special blessing on us and miss the call it lays upon us. It is a sign of God’s goodness and invites us to respond to that goodness. What will we do with this abundance?

The Finances of the Region
The Commission for region 9 decided early that any plans for the gifts it inherited from the Presbyteries and the Conference would need to be determined at a gathering of the region and would not be used to cover operating costs in 2019.

Working from that premise, the Commission set out a balanced budget that covered expenses with the two grants received from the denomination.

$325,000  –  from Assessment Funds
The salaries of all Executive Ministers and Executive Assistants are covered from the total assessment funds available for regional work. Then the balance is divided equally among regions. This is what is available to the region for its operation.
$289,000  –   from Mission and Service

Mission and Service
This $289,000 is dedicated to mission and ministry and provides:

  • the region’s share of salaries for its mission and ministry staff (Minister, Faith Formation; Minister, Right Relations and Indigenous Justice; Minister Social Justice).
    Because the regions are experimenting with operating as a cluster, i.e. working together on shared ministry, each region has access to more staff and to more specialized staff without jeopardizing the money available for grants.

$165,000 remains for:

  • former Mission Support Grant recipients (with the exception of Indigenous ministries which are being funded through the National Indigenous Circle, previously Aboriginal Ministries Circle);
  • former Presbytery and Conference grants.

A portion of this may also be directed to mission and ministry events/programs within the region.

The Commission is meeting soon to make decisions on the applications for mission support grants in 2019.

Assessment Funds
These funds support the decision-making structure of the region such as working in partnership with communities of faith concerning:

  • changes in their life cycle (creating, re-aligning, amalgamating, disbanding),
  • the declaration of vacancies and forming and ending of pastoral relationships,
  • the managing of real property (land and buildings) and personal property (major assets and renovations).

This is also the budget that fulfills the obligations of the region. It covers:

  • staff who resource decision-making (Minister, Pastoral Relations; Minister, Congregational Support and Mission);
  • the meeting of the region and the meetings of its decision-making bodies;
  • the cost of operating the region: office space, IT, telephone, website, accounting, etc.;
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Due to the sharing of staff and office space, the Commission is able to cover this within the allotted amount.

What is Missing from the 2019 Budget?
In order to maximize the funds available for the operating budget of the region, the Commission decided to cover two expenses from funds it will receive from the Conference:

  • One-time start-up costs such as design of the website plus some renovations to the office to accommodate all staff comfortably;
  • Extra-ordinary expenses such as the cost of a review of a community of faith and the supports that might be put in place to assist it following that.

What about the Presbytery’s remaining assets?
This is the decision of the Presbytery.
Here are some points the Presbytery might choose to consider when making that decision:

  • Be sure to retain sufficient funds to pay outstanding commitments (Presbytery Secretary’s salary/honorarium, outstanding Conference assessment, the cost of the final celebration of Presbytery, etc.).
  • We are the region! There is no new third-party about to take on the work that currently belongs to Presbytery. We will need to be part of that work on an on-going basis as the region.
  • The Presbytery’s assets have been collected for the work that is the responsibility of the Presbytery. That work continues as the responsibility of the region.
  • If the Presbytery designates a ministry that has applied for a Mission Support Grant to receive a share of its final assets, please advise the region of this.

Restricted Funds of the Presbytery
Some Presbyteries have funds that they have received for a specific purpose, i.e. support of students. If the donor designated the funds for that purpose, they need to continue to serve that purpose.

To facilitate that, the Presbytery can either:

  • Speak with Sarah Charters at The United Church of Canada Foundation (scharters@united-church.ca) to set up a fund there for that purpose. Sarah will enable the Presbytery to set up a fund that preserves the intent and that indicates how the fund will be expended (preserve principal or expend a portion of it, etc.); or
  • Transfer them to the region asking the region to honour this purpose.

About Restrictions
When the Presbytery forwards restricted funds to the region, it could ask that those funds only be available to recipients within its existing bounds. This may be the choice of the Presbytery but it is not the only available option. The region is the successor of the Presbytery so the Presbytery could also expand the use of the funds for the same beneficiaries across the region such as the creation of a new regional fund supporting students.

Personally, I worry about building inequities into our new system from the start, where wealth stays in one place and is not used for the benefit of all within the region.

Why forward unrestricted funds to the region?
The region has the financial wherewithal to manage its work. If we pooled the abundance of resources from our predecessors (Presbyteries and Conference), then the region might also have the capacity to foster strength and excellence in its communities of faith and ministry personnel. Imagine the possibilities!

So often, the church focuses on scarcity and loses sight of the abundance it has. Let’s shift our thinking in this season of Thanksgiving as we ponder how we will use the abundance God has entrusted to us.

Please do not hesitate to be in touch if you have further questions about the region and its financial resources. I can be reached at: csampa@united-church.ca.

Peace,
Cheryl-Ann Stadelbauer-Sampa
Executive Minister, Regions 7, 8 and 9

Regional Staff Office

Mailing Address: P.O. Box 100, Carlisle, Ontario L0R 1H0
Courier Address: 1552 Highway #6 North, Waterdown, Ontario L0R 2H0
Phone: (905) 659-3343
Hours: 9:00 am to 4:00 pm

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