Ministry and Mission Fund.

Finance and Property Group: Ministry and
Mission Fund.

At
synod members were informed at the last meeting in November that the
Ministry and Mission (M&M) formula was being reviewed. The object
of the M&M Fund is to provide, in partnership with local churches
and Synods, financial resources needed to train, equip and remunerate
ministry, to support centralised services, and the world-wide work of
the Church. Congregations share in the financial cost of the
programmes agreed by Assembly by making an annual commitment to the
Ministry and Mission Fund. Further details of these principles of
sharing can be found on the main URC website at
http://tinyurl.com/btfmlq
.

Discussions
held so far between some members of F&P and Pastoral Groups and
agreed by SEG, have concluded that it was time to change the way that
scoping and M&M were handled within East Midlands Synod. Pastoral
Group is drawing up proposals to relate scoping to the number of
churches and members in a pastorate. It was felt unhelpful for M&M
to be dependant on the number of members in a church because it acts
as a discouragement to bringing in new members. This is so even
though it would affect the prospect of receiving a higher proportion
of a minister's time when making a new call. The group therefore
thought that M&M appeals should be related to factors other than
the number of members or to scoping. The proposal is to consider
linking M&M requests to the ability to pay. The principles on
which any new system should be based are that it should be
transparent, understandable and fair. We also need to remember that
M&M is the first call on local churches income and that East
Midlands receives help towards its ministry from other synods' M&M.

It
is recognised that any new system would take time to implement and
needs the support of local churches. We would aim to implement a new
system for 2011 and therefore 2009 would be a period of consultation
with local churches. It is in the interests of everyone that this
should allow for views to be gathered and reflected upon by all
concerned. The implementation should reflect any adjustments needed
to take account of the variety of circumstances in local churches.
The area Finance Networkers will be key to the consultation process
as they are known and trusted by local churches.

Ideally
the new system would be simple to calculate and administer. The
initial suggestion is that M&M requests should be based on a
church's incoming resources. Since the Charities Act 1993, this
should be identifiable on church accounts and simple in theory.
However in the interests of fairness we need to take account of the
differences between local churches ability to attract income.
Churches have buildings of differing ages, usability, and heritage as
well as different kinds of congregations. Consultation is needed to
find out how local churches can deal with the issues raised: synod
will not be in a position to take every local circumstance into
account, but it can listen and suggest how churches can support each
other in a fair and transparent way. Consideration will be given to
LEPs.

When
a scheme is agreed it may throw up the need for transitional
arrangements if some churches are faced with a major change in the
amounts requested for M&M. There will also need to be a smooth
progression in changes from year to year.

As
the first step in consultation treasurers and others are invited to
the morning session at the March 2009 Synod. The M&M Issue Group
will seek to hear the concerns of treasurers about M&M and to
start the consultation process; initial reactions will be welcome.
The sharing which is at the heart of M&M fund raising requires
openness, honesty and trust of each other and sharing Church
accounts. All will be invited to suggest what allowances they wish to
have considered against total incoming resources. Such allowances
need to be acceptable across the wider church and local mutual
consultation would help. Some churches currently pay more than 50% of
their total income towards M&M and this needs reviewing.

Richard
Turnbull

02/03/09

 

See the Finance section for the May 2009 Roadshows update.

21 May 2009