Part of the work of the Ohio Conference Stewardship Ministry is responding to questions about Ohio Conference finances. Below are answers to some frequently asked questions.
I heard that the Ohio Conference has a lot of money in the bank but is asking for more. Is this true?
In the current fiscal year, the Ohio Conference is experiencing a deficit. At the beginning of the 2015-16 fiscal year (starting April 1), the Conference had $125,000 available for this operating shortfall. Because of action taken at the budget approval at the 2015 Annual Conference Assembly, this amount is all that is available for deficit spending in 2015.
What about the capital funds? What are those?
Ohio Conference has several funds separate from the general operating fund. Here are some details about these funds:
Endowment Fund: The Endowment Fund was established as a fund that could be used to create grants for special initiatives. The Endowment Fund rules say that only 4 percent of the total amount in the fund may be spent in a given year. Given that the Endowment Fund currently has a balance of approximately $250,000, there would be $10,000 available for grants from the Endowment Fund in this current year.
Loan Fund: This money is available for congregations seeking to borrow money which they may not be able to borrow from other sources.
Capacity Building: In 2006 the Conference started the Capacity Building Fund. The fund’s purpose is to provide financial support to projects outside the scope of normal Conference operations. A Capacity Building Team was formed and commissioned to increase the capacity of the Ohio Conference to do God’s work by encouraging member congregations and partners to generously share time, spiritual gifts, talents, energy and finances. After a short time, the Capacity Building Team disbanded, but some money remains in this fund, and over the years the Leadership Team and Ministry Development Team have used Capacity Building Funds to support a variety of special projects, such as a new website design, Randy Keeler’s sabbatical expenses while serving as a youth ministry resource, youth leader scholarships, LifeBridge North and Victory Community Church.
Short- and Long-Term Surplus Funds: These are monies that were accumulated during some years in which more contributions came in than were spent. Rather than using these funds for day-to-day operations, the Conference has decided that 20 percent of this balance can be spent annually for grant projects.
Why not use some of the grant money to fund the ongoing operations of the Conference?
One way of thinking is that if the current member churches do not support the ongoing day-to-day operations of the Conference, why should the Leadership Team take it upon itself to circumvent that sentiment? In other words, if the churches don’t value the services and activities of Conference, should the Conference keep doing what it is doing? As the Stewardship Ministry Team, we sensed that the 2015-2016 budget would not pass with that kind of thinking, so a cap on deficit spending was put into place: Spending cannot exceed the amount of money that has been set aside for shortfalls, which was a total of $125,000.
Why are we not seeing more initiatives in church planting and evangelism from the Conference?
Most of Conference time is currently being spent on maintaining and pastoring the congregations as they are. If there are requests for additional initiatives and innovative programs, there are funds available through the grant process for that. We would encourage groups of congregations in geographical areas or with affinity for a certain project to propose those projects to the Ministry Development Team for approval. Leadership Team and Stewardship Ministry would love to see bold innovative projects that would strengthen the church and help to carry out the mission of Ohio Conference. In some ways this puts the responsibility back on congregations to bring forth needs that they see in their local areas. These funds will be preferentially given to projects that have the greatest potential for spreading the good news of Christ and carrying out his Kingdom work.