December 2015

How do we decide whether to honor the contracts we have? In our daily lives, we decide whether to honor our contracts with the ambitions we have for work, our expectations to provide for our children, a commitment to serve on a committee, planning for our education or for our retirement, etc. Time and funds are limited, and we have to make choices. As a Leadership Team, we are faced with making decisions. As stewards of the budget, we are tasked with the best way of using funds. We have a commitment to a Five-Year Plan which has been analyzed, implemented and now reviewed. Inside the Five-Year Plan we have people working. We have individuals who in some cases have worked sacrificially to help our conference. Those individuals have plans and expectations of their own.

They are persons with children, sole breadwinners, healthcare needs, and parents.  What do we do when the money runs out? Where do we cut the funds? Which contracts implied or expressed do we honor?

As chair of the Stewardship Ministry Team, I understand that most people attending Ohio Conference churches don’t read these communications, and many people don’t understand the finances of the Conference. We are in a situation where, figuratively speaking, we have money in our savings account, but those funds are restricted and not available for operations. We are spending more than we receive, and most of the spending goes to pay persons employed as part of the Five-Year Plan. Obviously, no organization can spend more money than it takes in. However, for now, we are forced into that situation. You will see changes in the next few months. We are doing all we can to cut costs without cutting staff, but unfortunately, people you know will have their lives affected if we attempt to cut our way to compliance.

Last spring, you as congregations gave us a budget that committed to flat giving. This was an aggressive expectation. Because giving has not remained level, we are required by resolution to cut spending $1.35 for every $1.00 that has been reduced in giving.  In November we asked that congregations tell us how much money they will be sending before the end of the fiscal year, but approximately one half of the congregations did not respond with information about where their giving plans would be directing funds. How do we plan? How should we cut costs? How important is the Ohio Conference to you? If your congregation has not done so, please encourage your congregational leaders to complete the online survey. (Here is a link to the survey: Additionally, your generous contribution would be very much appreciated. The Conference depends on you.

Keith Hostetler
Stewardship Ministry Team Chair