Reduced budget limits new projects, reduces staff fundraising
By Connie Faber
The USMB Leadership Board has approved a 2014 budget of $751,380, a 19.29 percent reduction over what the national conference spent during the 2012-13 fiscal year. Leadership Board chair Steve Schroeder describes the budget, approved by the Board in mid-December, as conservative.
“We want to lead with integrity and honesty and to fund our ministries with the funds that come in rather than with our reserves,” says Schroeder. “This is a doable budget.”
Schroeder says the 2014 budget represents a “strong commitment to maintaining current staff and ministries, to fulfilling our obligations and to doing so in a fiscally sound way so that we don’t end the year in the red.”
While the budget reductions will impact all USMB ministries to varying degrees, new projects—specifically new church plants—have been put on hold.
Although the 2014 budget does not include funds for new church plants, Schroeder says the national conference can continue to be involved in planting new churches.
“God is moving, and church planting can still happen in 2014 without USMB being a financial partner in those plants,” says Schroeder.
The 2014 budget includes ongoing funding for the nine church plant initiatives begun in 2012 and 2013. Schroeder says USMB can assist districts in new 2014 church planting ventures by funding assessment and training for new church planters and by making it possible for USMB staff to lend their expertise to new church plant project teams that may emerge during the next 12 months.
“Although slowing down our church planting partnerships is difficult, we are being realistic,” says USMB executive director Ed Boschman, who will retire from full-time ministry in July 2014. “We are praying for God to provide through his people, and we invite the constituents to lean in strongly.”
USMB’s financial commitments to partner ministries were also reviewed, say Boschman and Schroeder. Funding was reduced to three ministries that have income sources in addition to the national conference. These ministries are the National Youth Committee that has a reserve fund, Ministry Quest that is supported by Tabor College and Kindred Productions that is owned by the Canadian Conference of MB Churches.
Schroeder says the Leadership Board anticipates that its decision to reduce staff fundraising for the 2014 budget sets the stage for the next executive director “to be successful and not overwhelmed with fundraising.”
Boschman has been responsible for fundraising as much as $125,000 annually and has been successful in doing so. However, Schroeder says the Leadership Board is reviewing the executive director’s job description to determine if this is an expectation that will continue.
“The easiest thing to do as we thought about filling the executive director’s position would have been to continue using the current job description,” says Schroeder. “But this is a prime opportunity for the Leadership Board to ask bigger questions.”
Answering those questions, says Schroeder, will include talking over the next 12 months with other Mennonite Brethren ministry leaders and district and local church leaders.
“There will likely be organized ways of listening to district ministers and churches,” says Schoeder. “We want to hear from pastors and church leaders how best we (USMB) can serve them. We don’t want to be too quick to assume we know what congregations need from the national conference.”
The information the Leadership Board gathers over the next year will help the board develop a job description for the executive director that meets the needs of local congregations and helps them with their ministry while also strengthening partnerships with district conferences and other U.S. Mennonite Brethren ministries.
Meanwhile, USMB is entering the 2014 fiscal year in the black following a transitional fiscal period that ended Dec. 31, 2013. USMB is shifting to a calendar fiscal year and concluded an interim seven-month phase with strong income thanks to steady church contributions and effective staff fundraising efforts.