Sustainability Advisory Group Report
View the Sustainability Advisory Group Report.
The economic collapse of 2007-09 did not cause the financial challenges facing The United Methodist Church, but it did bring financial practices into focus across the Church. As a result, the financial crisis presented conferences with funding concerns and a need to look closely at UMC benefits, compensation and infrastructure that may be neither affordable nor sustainable. GBOPHB general secretary, Barbara Boigegrain, brought the financial challenge forward, into open dialogue. Over a year ago, at the Conference Forum, she asked for volunteers to establish a “sustainability advisory group” (SAG) to examine the financial implications in sustaining the Church’s mission and ministry. The volunteers represented 15 conferences—GCFA and GBOPHB staff provided support to SAG and participated in the discussions.
Her challenge to them was to “change the financial conversation” by leading a different discussion, sharing conference financial information realistically and openly about what is affordable and sustainable. “My conjecture is that our compensation structure isn’t affordable; our benefit structure isn’t affordable; and our infrastructure isn’t affordable,” Ms. Boigegrain said. “Yet, we have no information to work with in order to go to the Council of Bishops or to go back to our board and say ‘here are some hard facts we can work with’ to start to get our hands around this financial picture. And let’s get GCFA to join us—let’s get your CFA’s to join us and start a discussion about better aligning our mission and ministry, church growth and new starts, and training leadership across the denomination, so that we can reverse these trends over time.”
The SAG final report is the work of this volunteer group—it is a report-out of what the SAG members found, best practices they discovered in conferences, and issues that surfaced and how they suggested addressing them. The report does not reflect the views of any one conference or agency involved. The SAG final report was released in May 2010 by the SAG team members to conference benefits officers, to task force leadership (Church Systems Task Force; Ministry Study), the Worldwide Nature of the Church and bishops in leadership.