Conference groups vote to move forward with capital campaign

January 15, 2014

By: Christa Meland

On Monday, about six weeks after the conclusion of a capital campaign feasibility study conducted within the Minnesota Conference, several leadership teams voted to move forward with a conference-wide capital campaign for congregational development.

Members of the Common Table, the Congregational Development Ministry Team, the Council on Finance and Administration, and the Extended Cabinet also voted to hire Tyler Associates out of Irving, Texas, to lead the conference through the capital campaign. That’s the same company that conducted the feasibility study; the firm has deep knowledge of the United Methodist Church and has worked on capital campaigns for both annual conferences and local churches within the denomination.

At Monday’s meeting, Tyler Associates CEO Jennifer Tyler shared the findings of the feasibility study, which are based on almost 560 online questionnaires completed by members of the Minnesota Conference and more than 110 personal conversations that Tyler Associates facilitated with clergy and laity over a two-week period in November.

The study found that the vast majority of people surveyed believe that pursuing a plan to fund new faith communities and congregational vitality programs is important, and Tyler said there was consensus that the Minnesota Conference is at a crossroads and specific, bold actions must be taken to foster an environment of vitality and growth. Based on the study’s findings, Tyler recommended moving forward with a campaign, which would fund congregational development initiatives over the next seven years. (To learn more about the reason for the feasibility study and the need for a capital campaign, click here to read a previous article with those details.)

The financial goal presented to those who participated in the feasibility study was $3.7 million. The study found that the majority of respondents suspect that the Minnesota Conference has the financial capacity to reach that goal but there was some uncertainty about whether it could be achieved.

That finding factored into Tyler’s recommendation to set a $2.5 million goal for the capital campaign, with an additional $1.2 million set as a “challenge” or stretch goal. That recommendation will be further explored by the capital campaign leadership team, which will meet in the coming weeks to set forth the capital campaign plan and specific timetable.

Dan Johnson, the Minnesota Conference’s director of congregational development, said after the meeting that he is “profoundly encouraged by the Common Table’s commitment to congregational development and its financial undergirding” and that it is “amazing to see the Holy Spirit breaking through in such exciting ways.”

“When I witnessed the near unanimous vote to move ahead with a capital campaign, I was immediately thrilled about all the doors this will open for our United Methodist work and witness in Minnesota,” Johnson said. “In the same instant, I was humbled by the awesome responsibility to deliver on the dream. In the words of a beloved hymn, this action affirms our ‘strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow!’

Members of the Minnesota Conference will hear more about the feasibility study results and plans for the capital campaign at the 2014 annual conference session, taking place May 28-30 in St. Cloud.

2015 budget, other actions from Monday’s meeting

Also on Monday, the Common Table and the Council on Finance and Administration approved a 2015 budget to recommend to members of the 2014 annual conference session. The recommended budget requests an apportioned amount of $6,390,368—a figure that’s $142,408 above the 2014 approved budget and $43,682 below the maximum amount, or ceiling, that’s permitted based on Minnesota Conference rules.

The budget includes an estimate for the apportioned amount that the General Conference will assign to Minnesota; in the same way that local churches annually remit apportionments to the Minnesota Conference to fund operations at the conference level, all annual conferences remit funds annually to the General Conference to fund functions of the global church. The Minnesota Conference’s 2015 budget could change after the official 2015 General Conference apportioned amounts are released in February.

The Minnesota Conference’s recommended budget does not include the “uncollectible contingency,” or anticipated shortfall in apportionment remittances; the total amount that would be apportioned to churches if this budget is approved would include that anticipated shortfall; it will be set by the Council of Finance and Administration next month after the group reviews the 2013 apportionment receipt rate and other financial benchmarks.

The 2015 budget is focused on funding activities that address our gospel imperatives to reach new people, cultivate spiritual vitality, and heal a broken world. The recommended budget will be considered and voted on by members of the 2014 annual conference session.

The last action taken at Monday’s meeting was ratifying the election of Rev. Teri Johnson, pastor at Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church, to the Hamline University Board of Trustees. The United Methodist-related university’s board also includes Minnesota Conference Director of Ministries Cindy Gregorson and Resident Bishop Bruce R. Ough (ex-officio).

Christa Meland is director of communications for the Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.

Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church

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