Build up giving with new toolkit

6/17/2008

By Woody Woodrick
Advocate Editor

Pastors and lay leaders often say they could do a better job explaining the Mississippi Conference budget if they had more tangible resources.

Now they do.

The conference Council on Finance and Administration developed a toolkit of resources that explains both the Mississippi Conference budget and the general church budget. The items in the package show where funds placed in local-church offering plates go.

“CFA decided it needed to do a better job telling where apportionment dollars went,” said David Stotts, director of finance and administration. In the 1990s a videotape was done by the conference called ‘Money Counts.’ That was the first tool kit done in the Mississippi Conference.”

The kits were made available at Annual Conference held June 8-10 at Christ UMC in Jackson. Margaret Ducker of Senatobia First United Methodist Church picked up a kit for her church.

“I think it’s a great idea,” she said. “We have people ask all the time to explain (the budget) to them.”

The Rev. Larry Creel of Winona Moore Memorial UMC agreed. “I think it will be real helpful,” he said.

While Creel said he doesn’t field a lot of questions about where funds go, he thinks studying the kit could help his church better plan and organize its budget.

The kit contains printed material, a DVD and a CD, all designed to explain where apportioned funds go.

“My desire,” Stotts said, “is that this tool kit allows the pastor, finance chair or treasurer to have the resources to answer questions about where our money goes. There are a variety of resources that should enable them to do that. We hope it will be a permanent part of the library at the church.”

The finance office began handing out the tool kits Monday afternoon at Annual Conference. Each church will receive a kit and each pastor will receive one. The desire is for the pastors to leave their kits at the church as they change appointments.

Specifically, the kits contain:
• A cover letter from Bishop Hope Morgan Ward
• Materials that cover ways to encourage connectional giving
• Instructions on how to check church appointment giving on-line at the conference website
• The CD “All Good Gifts” that details the 14 general church items and related segments.
• A copy of the Mississippi Conference 2007 Giving Report
• A copy of the proposed 2008 budget for the Mississippi Conference
• A DVD that includes a PowerPoint presentation of the where funds go and printable files of many of the other items in the kit.
 
“We hope this puts a face on the real need to be a connectional giving church and makes people feel better about the big ministry we are doing in all our little ways,” Stotts said.
 
Laity will receive full training on using the kits during district meetings planned for the fall. The Rev. Joe May of Jackson Anderson United Methodist Church and the Rev. Vicki Landrum of Jackson Christ UMC, both members of CFA, have agreed to hold training sessions for clergy.
 
Another way CFA  tried to help churches during Annual Conference was by providing an estimate of each church’s apportionments at registration. One copy of the estimate was available for each church. The estimate was based on the proposed budget based on the approval of direct billing for clergy pensions and insurance. The $20 million budget was approved.