Texas Conference reduces budget by almost $1 million

Date Posted: 6/3/2021

By Lindsay Peyton
The 2022 budget for the Texas Annual Conference will reduce spending by about $1 million. The savings will empower churches and districts to pursue their missions.
The 2022 proposed Conference budget of $9.786 million was approved with 1095 votes in favor and 19 against during Annual Conference on Monday, May 31. This total budget represents a reduction of 34 percent since 2018.
“That’s good news,” Treasurer Rev. Carol Bruse said. “We promised the Conference we would reduce spending, and we’re proud that we have. It’s a privilege to serve during this time.”
And looking on the bright side is exactly what is needed after the past difficult year, Dr. Deborah Vaughn, 2020-2021 Chair of the Council on Finance and Administration, added.
“As we continue to endure the effects of this global pandemic, recover from a historic winter storm, and strive to reach beyond the walls of our own churches with effective ministry, we could use some good news,” she said.
Vaughn presented the budget during the Annual Conference. The entire report is available in the Pre-Conference Journal and Addendum at https://www.txcumc.org/tac2021

Bruse explained that the good tidings are possible because of members’ continued faith in the important work of the TAC, ensuring the organization remains financially stable.
“We are so grateful to our districts, churches and members for each contribution submitted to support the on-going connectional work entrusted to our care,” she said. “Thank you so much for your continued faithfulness.”
While General, Jurisdictional and Conference apportionments were down in 2020, Conference revenues were down by $2.3 million. 
Bruse explained that Conference spending decreased in the past fiscal year. “Travel and in-person program costs were down,” she said.  “And Conference staff faithfully stayed within very strict expenditure guidelines in expectation of below-normal projected receipts.” And the Conference received a $700,000 loan from the Paycheck Protection Program, which has been completely forgiven.
“Last fall, the Council voted to change the way we carry over budget funds and account for reserves, and Conference fiscal investments earned double digit returns,” Bruse said. 
She explained that a common rule of thumb states that organizations should keep a minimum of 10 percent of their annual budget in operating reserves. 
“By the end of the year, the Conference had operating reserves over $10 million, equal to almost an entire year of Conference apportionment receipts,” Bruse said.
The TAC’s fiscal balance totaled $31.74 million, which included restricted investments and liabilities, as well as both designated and operating reserves.
Vaugh projects that apportionment receipts from 2021 will remain low, but she expects that with staff’s continued financial vigilance and other reductions, significant savings can be passed on to the TAC in 2022.
Bruse said that despite reductions, the budget still allows almost $1 million to be invested in churches and districts. “We have really changed the way we serve the local church,” she said.
For instance, $200,000 will be available in the 2022 budget to allow churches to acquire specialists through the new Center for Leadership Formation. “Congregations can ask for help, to gain whatever expertise they need,” Bruse said. “That could be communications, technology, discipleship formation, children’s or youth ministry.”
The approved budget also provides $250,000 for innovative ministries through the Office of the Assistant to the Bishop. Pastors or churches can apply to the leadership team with ideas that further the mission of the Conference.
In addition, new allocations in the budget will provide $540,000 to the nine Districts, or $60,000 to each. “The Districts do not have to apply for this funding,” Bruse said. “The money is theirs. They can focus on the needs of their district. That puts the dollars closer to the local church.”
Vaughn reminds churches how crucial it is to continue their support by issuing their apportionment payments. “These are challenging times, but your faithfulness in giving has prepared our Annual Conference financially to move forward effectively in ministry with financial stability,” she said.

Bruce presented 100 percent apportionments paid awards to the West and East Districts with District Superintendents the Rev. Wanda Bess and Dr. Dick White accepting the awards on behalf of their districts.
Report Day is scheduled for Jan. 11-12, 2022. For questions regarding apportionment statements or payments, email Rochelle Cebrun at rcebrun@txcumc.org. 
Bruse said that the budget is completely transformed, to strengthen the local churches and follow recommendations from the Strategic Mapping Team.
“It’s a new model for ministry,” she said. “Our Conference is financially stable and ready to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world, no matter what the future brings. And that’s good news indeed.”