Q&A about BCM 2017 Changes

You can read the full announcement here. We know there are questions, so we have taken a stab at answering a few below:

Why Doug’s position? Weren’t there other places you could cut?
In order to answer that, it helps to go back to the beginning of this process. Given our “high-touch” ministry work, our staff costs (salaries, insurance, taxes, etc.) for nearly five staff people and contract labor equal about 60% of our budget. So we knew that any major decrease in income would logically hit this area the hardest, but that it would also require cuts in many parts of our ministry budget.

Earlier in 2016, we were informed of impending 2017 budget constraints which could amount to a $40,000 to $80,000 deficit for BCM. BCM’s Executive Committee engaged a group of current and former BCM members and program participants to consider the likely 2017 budget constraints. This group met, examined the current budget, and explored a variety of options, including but not limited, to:

  • Cutting expenses.
  • Increasing income through other sources (limited due to current provincial fundraising restrictions).
  • Re-imagining staffing configurations.
  • Transforming/evolving BCM’s vision and reconfiguring around that.

The group presented the Executive Committee with some recommendations about ways to address these looming financial challenges. This group strongly suggested BCM’s ministry must flow from its priorities, which need to be realigned in light of both the recent BCM planning retreat outcomes and the dynamic, shifting landscape of church.

Parallel to that conversation, the Provincial Elders Conference (PEC) has long been considering ministry priorities, as is their mandate from Synod. Brother David Guthrie shared at BCM’s July meeting a memo from PEC outlining a shift in BCM ministry priorities, which needs to occur prior to the 2018 Synod.  Specifically, BCM is asked to focus on congregational development, leadership development, and emerging ministry efforts.

In late summer, BCM learned that the decline in our 2017 income would be approximately 16%, or roughly $64,000. After much discussion and consideration, the Executive Committee proposed the following actions in order to address the 2017 budget deficit while also working to meet PEC’s recent directive:

  • Reimagine the Director of Youth, College, and Young Adult Ministries position so that ministry work is carried out primarily by volunteers, contract employees, dual call, or teams of individuals. A percentage of the funds currently designated for this full-time position would be redirected towards continuing youth, college age, and young adult ministry as well as emerging ministry.
  • Reduce elements of BCM’s program and administrative budgets.

So, after a thorough analysis of all our options, this is where we landed. It has been many months, many conversations, and a lot of prayer that has led us to this place. We didn’t get here easily.

Why didn’t you just pull money from your endowments or invested funds?
We don’t believe that is a sustainable option. BCM’s primary income source (approximately 80%) comes from congregational provincial share funds. The rest of BCM’s income comes from interest or planned disbursements from invested and designated funds, and Resource Center profits. The Executive Committee considered whether money could be used from BCM’s various funds to cover the budget shortfall, but determined that using these funds for operations would not be sustainable over any significant period of time. They believe these funds are best used either for their intended purpose (many are restricted to certain ministries), to infuse various ministries with needed resources, or to cover emergency situations.

Could you not try and raise that money through direct fundraising?
The Southern Province has used a “unified budget” approach for many years, which provides funding for its various agencies through church income and other sources. Direct fundraising requires approval by the Provincial Support Service Board, and while there may be changes in the future, direct fundraising is not currently a viable option.

What happens now? How are we going to make sure we’re still focusing our efforts on youth, who are so important to the church?
The Executive Committee already met with some of the youth and young adults who have leadership roles with the Regional Youth Council and the Young Adult Ministry Team. We explained our situation and listened to them share their frustrations, questions, and suggestions. We took lots of notes.

We’re now devising a plan of action to reimagine existing programs with new staff configuration and with greater input from those we serve. We’ll be talking more about that in the coming months.

Doug has already begun working to ensure a smooth transition of youth, college, and young adult ministries to interim and/or other volunteers or staff. He and Aaron Linville recently shared the news with the rest of the Regional Youth Council and they’ll be working to make sure that all voices are heard during the transition.

Additionally, BCM members will be conversing with college age Moravians to discover how they might want to see this ministry continue. In many ways, this provides everyone (churches, members, clergy, the province) opportunities to deepen and strengthen their relationships with young Moravians.

Our young adult leaders are confident they can provide for themselves, with staff support from the BCM coming from remaining staff.

What about next year? How will you continue your ministries with few resources?

That’s a good question and one we have been talking about for quite some time. We know that we are facing an adaptive challenge, one that will require all of us, not just provincial staff, to solve. The upcoming Synod of 2018 will provide the opportunity for us to make some bold choices about the future of our church and our ministries.

Despite the challenges facing the church, we are hopeful that working together, we can become a church that shares the faith, love, and hope of Christ in the world. We will need to be creative and persistent and faithful. We commit to creating and continuing conversations about BCM’s long-term sustainability as well as being part of the solution and not the problem.

What will happen with emerging ministries?

BCM is beginning conversations with PEC regarding the definition and implementation of emerging ministries. We’ll soon develop a working group to further explore ministry plans. We have set aside funds for the 2017 budget to provide both program and limited staff support in this area, but these plans are still emerging themselves!

Will Doug be open to call to a congregation?

Of course! Like all those who are ordained, Doug is open and eligible to receive a call. PEC actively considers all pastors for call and Doug is no exception. Doug is first and foremost a servant of God, willing to trust that God will reveal a new way for him to serve within the Moravian Church.

What are you going to do to recognize Doug’s work?
Doug has been with us since December of 2012 and we want to be sure we celebrate his time with us. We are currently consulting with those he serves most often and will let folks know of any plans as soon as they are made. In the meantime, we will take every chance we can to affirm Doug’s important ministry and to celebrate the many ways he’s made a difference in all our lives. We encourage you to do the same!