Visionary budget of $1 million includes funds for 6 new church plants
By Connie Faber
Given the importance of securing additional funding for USMB ministries, the announcement that longtime U.S. Mennonite Brethren pastor J Edward Epp of Henderson, Neb., has been hired as the USMB director of development couldn’t have come at a better time.
While the director of development position was established in 2011 and filled on a part-time basis from October 2011 to April 2012, Epp is the first person to hold the position full-time. He will play a key role in meeting USMB staff fundraising goals of $394,284 for the current fiscal year, up from $200,000 the previous fiscal year.
While the 2011-12 budget included funds for only minimal ministry growth, the 2012-13 budget of $1,018,524, a 20 percent increase over the previous year, reflects an aggressive plan. The increases come in new staff and new initiatives, including plans to plant six new churches. Projected church income for the 2012-13 fiscal year, that began June 1, remains much the same as the previous year while projected staff fundraising increased by 97 percent. Epp will be working with USMB Executive Director Ed Boschman and Mission USA Director Don Morris to meet this ambitious fundraising goal.
The largest single source of income for the national conference is church contributions. Church contributions for this past fiscal year (June 1, 2011 to May 31, 2012) fell short of the budgeted goal of $420,560 by $35,623.
Meanwhile, USMB staff fundraising exceeded expectations. Staff members raised $36,354 more than their budgeted goal of $200,000. Other sources of income include interest and endowment income, distributions by MB Foundation and funds from USMB ministry partners for the USMB Slavic Ministry.
While USMB staff have committed themselves to increased fundraising, USMB leaders are hopeful that the decision to move from a “norms” approach to church giving to a proportional funding model will increase contributions over time from the 194 congregations that form the U.S. Conference of MB Churches.
Under the new model, churches are asked to send a “first fruits” financial gift of 2.5 percent of general offerings to support USMB ministries.
“We recognize this transition will take time,” writes USMB executive director Ed Boschman in an August letter to all USMB congregations. “We ask two things for this time of transition: If your norms-giving exceeds 2.5 percent of your general offerings, please hold to the line on the norms number for the next three years. If your church is not supporting (USMB) at all or very little, please start at 1 percent and plan to grow to 2.5 percent in the next three years.”
Meanwhile, USMB staff members are thankful for the positive signs they see in the year-end report for the 2011-12 fiscal year. The USMB 2011-12 fiscal year-end report, made available to all U.S. Mennonite Brethren churches and reviewed by delegates to Conection 2012, shows that total receipts exceeded the budget of $848,000 by $3,380.
The year-end report also shows that while USMB ministries (Slavic Ministry, Mission USA, the Christian Leader and Board of Faith and Life) came in under budget, expense lines for overall administration, staff and the Leadership Board were over budget. The USMB annual budget also includes support for various Mennonite Brethren and interdenominational ministries and that line also exceeded the budget. Expense lines were over budget by $35,623, resulting in a year-end deficit of $20,384.