September 23, 2019 Summary
The role of the Finance Team is to help identify and quantify the possible financial challenges and available resources for the options specified by the Task Force for aligning with, creating, or forming a new church body in the Methodist tradition (independently or in collaboration with others). In particular, the Team expects to focus on the determination of the likely financial effects of a decision by the NEAC to leave the UMC or of other structural or organizational changes affecting the NEAC, including offering assistance to churches that are considering disaffiliation.
Substantial uncertainty in the options to be evaluated has complicated the work of the Finance Team. The UMC Judicial Council at its October 29 through November 1 meeting is expected to rule on several petitions regarding the Traditional Plan and its consequences, including the process for local church disaffiliation that was passed at GC2019. These decisions will directly affect the work of the FT and the rest of the OSTF. A representative of Wespath will attend the October 26 meeting of the NEAC 2020 General Conference Delegation to provide information and initiate a discussion of the effects of the various plans and proposals expected to be presented at GC2020.
To date, while waiting for the descriptions of the options to be evaluated, the Team has focused on understanding the existing financial costs and structures of the NE Conference and identifying the potential costs that will have to be analyzed. We have begun to review the cost items in the Conference budget to determine how each might be affected by organizational change options.
We have focused especially on pension costs and obligations, mission shares and major cost items such as Camping Ministry costs (which account for about 5.8% of the $8.1 million 2020 NEAC budget). We are planning to consult with the Conference Board of Pensions, Conference Trustees (for costs related to disaffiliation) and the Council on Finance and Administration as we carry out these analyses.
We have also discussed the creation of a comparative cost baseline to use in the evaluation of the financial effects of the various options, debating whether the baseline should reflect existing cost levels or the estimated costs of one of the possible action options.
With the expectation that the two events mentioned above (GC2020 Delegation meeting and Judicial Council session) will produce helpful information and reduce the existing uncertainty, the Team is planning to meet next in early November, in person if possible, at which time we expect
to shift from our current research mode to a more productive analysis and evaluation mode.