Editor's Note: As the 2012 General Conference approaches, United Methodist News Service is looking at details of legislation and offering information to help readers better understand how the church works. A number of proposals are aimed at restructuring the denomination and its general ministries, so UMNS asked the top executives of each agency to answer five questions about their agency's role in the church. This is the response from the General Council on Finance and Administration.
1. One issue to be debated at General Conference is restructuring. What would the church miss if your agency no longer existed?
The motto for the General Council on Finance and Administration is “serving the church through the ministry of administration.” This is based on the passage in Acts 6:1-7. As the only council among the general agencies created by the General Conference, the finance and administration council is charged in ¶703 of the 2008 Book of Discipline “to perform defined responsibilities of review and oversight on behalf of the General Conference in relation to the other general agencies.” In ¶806, the assigned fiscal responsibilities are to hold in trust such funds as may have been authorized by the General Conference and distribute them only in support of the ministries of the respective funds. “The council shall be accountable to The United Methodist Church through the General Conference in all matters relating to the receiving, disbursing and reporting of such funds, and agencies receiving such funds shall be fiscally accountable to the council.”
2. What is your agency’s primary mission? How do you accomplish this in the most effective manner?
As part of the finance and administration council’s administrative ministries, it is responsible for protecting the legal interests of the denomination, collecting and analyzing the church's important statistics, serving as the trustees of the assets given to the denomination, and maintaining an insurance program to all United Methodist local churches in the United States where acceptable on an underwriting basis. Staff members provide assistance and advice to the jurisdictions, annual conferences, districts and local churches in all matters relating to the work of the council.
3. Name at least one exciting thing your agency has been involved in during the current quadrennium. How does it relate to the Four Areas of Focus?
One exciting development in the finance and administration council this quadrennium has been the creation of a web-based, integrated, data-management system that assists local churches and annual conferences with collecting, processing and reporting an extensive amount of data related to clergy and lay leadership, appointments, contact information, statistics and records. Currently, 39 annual conferences are using the system, with more joining as they see the advantages of entering the data once for use by the many organizations that require this information as part of their ministry. There is also an innovative online weekly statistics dashboard called Vital Signs. This is part of the council’s support of the vital congregations movement and is used by more than 5,000 congregations in the United States.
4. How does the average United Methodist pastor or member benefit from your agency’s work?
Our work benefits the average pastor or member by providing much of the “back office” financial and administrative work that enables the bishops and general agencies to do their ministry with the people of The United Methodist Church. We like to say that if we have done our work correctly, no one will know that we have done it at all. It is the necessary and important work that helps make ministry happen.
5. How much money and how many employees does it take to maintain the work your agency is currently doing?
GCFA now employs 56 staff members with an average annual budget of $6.7 million.
Learn more: Website of the General Council on Finance and Administration