The U.S. Conference of MB Churches (USMB) finished the 2017 fiscal year in the black, reports USMB bookkeeper Donna Sullivan. However, USMB leaders are disappointed in the level of 2017 church giving and are concerned that the decline in contributions from local congregations will continue in 2018.
USMB finished the 2017 fiscal year with a positive operating balance of over $60,000, reports Sullivan. Income, budgeted at $826,840, totaled $840,181 and actual expenses for 2017 were $779,322, more than $47,000 below budget. However, church contributions of $382,028 came in under budget by about $28,000.
Three months into the 2018 fiscal year, church giving is again lagging behind. In mid-March, Don Morris, USMB national director, sent letters to USMB churches requesting that local congregations contribute “first fruits” financial support of 2.5 percent of their general offerings to fund USMB ministries.
This proportional funding model to underwrite USMB ministries was initiated in 2012.
For congregations that are not currently contributing to USMB, Morris asks that in 2018 they consider sending 1 percent of their general offerings, with the goal of growing that to 2.5 percent over the next three years.
“Overall member church support for USMB was less in 2017 than for any year over the past 17 years,” writes Morris. “This has caused considerable concern…. Without support from our member churches, the U.S. Conference would not exist and could not provide the wide array of ministries that we make available to our family of churches.”
Increasing and enhancing USMB ministries that serve the local churches is a U.S. Conference goal for 2018 and that goal is supported by the 2018 budget. While the 2018 USMB income budget of $410,000 in church contributions is the same as 2017, the total 2018 budget increased by more than $120,000 so that USMB can pursue a variety of ongoing and new projects to resource and assist USMB churches to maximize their full God-given ministry potential. The 2018 budget of $940,000 is a 15 percent increase over the 2017 budget of $819,840.
The largest increase on the expense side comes in mission and ministry, with significantly more funds earmarked for LEAD initiatives (from $6,000 in 2017 to $60,000 in 2018) and internships (from $1,200 in 2017 to $15,000 in 2018). Additional increases are in leadership development scholarships (from $1,000 in 2017 to $3,000 in 2018) and National Strategy Team gatherings (from $9,000 in 2017 to $15,000 in 2018).
Increases in the general operating budget includes $10,000 for the January 2018 gathering of the district and national conference Boards of Faith and Life and additional funds for promotion and board travel.
In addition to church gifts of $410,000, the USMB 2018 income budget includes overall fundraising of $240,000 and a contribution of $180,000 from MB Foundation.