More than 10 percent of Massachusetts Conference churches have opted into United Church Mission, the Conference's new funding system, and those doing so have expressed enthusiasm for the change.
Jonathan New, Associate Conference Minister for Stewardship and Financial Development, says he is "ecstatic" at the numbers, and said there has been one common theme in the conversations he has had with church leaders making the switch to the new system: "that folding Fellowship Dues and OCWM Basic Support together into one wider church giving contribution through United Church Mission makes sense."
"Of course," he added, "there are many different attractions to moving to United Church Mission. Some talk about streamlining wider church giving, and the fact that UCM is easier to explain to church members. Others cite elimination of Fellowship Dues, which often feel like an imposed “head tax” that keeps some churches constantly cleaning their membership rolls to reduce payments. Mission and Outreach Committee members note that the unified system of support emphasizes that all church giving is mission giving. Stewardship folks like that UCM is in line with the message of proportional giving we give church members, as well as the biblical principles of percentage giving that support this approach. All see the wisdom in a system that is fair. With United Church Mission, the fortunes of all church settings – local church, Association, Conference, National – rise or fall together."
United Church Mission was approved at Annual Meeting in June, 2014, in the hope that it will eventually replace the current system in which churches contribute to Our Church’s Wider Mission Basic Support and pay Fellowship Dues.
As of this writing, more than 40 churches had opted into the system for 2015, with several more making final determinations at upcoming annual meetings. See a list of churches that have opted in here.
Moving forward, New says the Conference will continue to develop resources and approaches that equip church leaders to guide their churches in decision-making about United Church Mission (including a workshop at the March 21 Super Saturday).
"This spring we'll also begin offering events across the Conference to get the word out about United Church Mission and, in particular, to talk with pastors, treasurers, and Mission Committee members about why their churches might want to join UCM," he said. "And, of course, we'll be adding to the list of UCM resources available on the Conference website."
New said Conference staff and leaders will also continue to work with Associations in advance of their spring meetings, as they make decisions about whether or not to adopt United Church Mission.
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