Part of a series on how the church works
In 2016, The United Methodist Church’s General Council on Finance and Administration focused both inward and outward. The finance agency placed a priority on professional development for staff while increasing the services it offers to the rest of the denomination.
In response to questions from United Methodist News Service, executive staff of the commission discussed the agency’s role and accomplishments in the past year.
What were the top three to five goals of your agency in 2016?
The General Council on Finance and Administration focused on two essential goals for our agency in 2016. They were (1) to improve the efficiency of our staff by assuring each staff member complete at least one professional development training to enhance their work and (2) increase our Shared Services throughout the denomination with our key constituents: local churches, annual conferences, general boards and agencies, and central conferences.
Were you able to fully or partly accomplish these goals? How was that done?
The training goal was accomplished, as 100 percent of our staff completed professional training. Some of them completed more than one course or program. The categories of training ranged from participating in church business administrator certification training to SQL database training, finance courses to investment training, Word and Excel proficiency training to human resources compliance training, leadership development, work toward bachelor’s degrees and much more. The training is as varied as the jobs are at the council.
In addition to receiving training, we also have been engaged in offering training to the connection. The council has provided training on immigration and legal rights issues; Occupational Safety and Health Administration consultations from the legal department; church business administrators training; involvement with chancellor and treasurer training; and our biggest event, the quadrennial training for church leaders. The council also has developed the Professional Association of United Methodist Church Secretaries online certification institute — which nearly tripled the number of people certified this year.
What was your budget for 2016? How much of that budget was put toward each of these goals?
The global and connectional work of GCFA operated on a $11.8 million budget in 2016. Forty percent of the council's budget in 2016 was generated from non-traditional resources, diminishing the dependence on apportioned funding graciously given by the people of The United Methodist Church.
The council receives a percentage of its budget from general church apportioned funds. Forty percent of the 2016 budget was generated from non-traditional resources, diminishing the dependence on apportioned funding graciously given by the people of The United Methodist Church.
Please give a specific example of how one of your programs benefited a United Methodist, a church, or a specific community.
Our Shared Services Department is constantly receiving comments back from annual conferences and local churches about the benefits of the programs and products developed by the council for the church. The Baltimore-Washington Annual Conference is one example of how the products developed by the council have aided the conference in saving over $40,000 in IT costs.
What particular challenges did the agency face in accomplishing these goals?
One of the areas that we will continue to make improvements in moving forward is how we let the church know about the products and services the council has to offer.
If the goals are ongoing, what do you plan to accomplish in 2017?
The council will establish quadrennial goals for 2017-2020. We will redouble our commitment to support ministries of the connection, focusing on ways to assist local churches with enhanced or new resources; continue to work within the connection to improve understanding of and support for connectional giving and partner with orders in the denomination to reduce redundancies and ensure proper stewardship of general church resources.