The Conference Connectional Table (CCT) met December 8 by Zoom. A meeting summary follows.
The Reverend Alma Ruiz, lecturer and evangelism director of the Hispanic House of Studies at Duke Divinity School, offered a devotion based on Isaiah 58:6-9. These verses summarize the ministry God calls us to do: to loose the chains of injustice, to set the opposed free and break every yoke, to share our food with the hungry, to provide the poor wanderer with shelter, to clothe the naked, and not to turn away from our own flesh and blood. It is clear what is our divine call, yet we don’t seem to understand it. What God asks of us is to have a simple faith – a faith that allows us to recognize the face of Christ in the face of the poor, marginalized, and oppressed people.
Structure of the CCT
Each of the 24 members of the CCT have voice, and 12 of these have voting privilege. These 12 voting members are divided (and rotate yearly) among the four ministry teams within the CCT: Christian Formation, Leadership Development, Outreach, and Racial Equity and Justice. Each member, including the youth president who serves as a full voting member of the CCT during his/her tenure as youth president, offers voice to the CCT’s work of understanding, casting forth, and implementation for the conference vision. The CCT reiterated that if the input from a particular ministry is needed in their conversation, the CCT will extend that invitation to appropriate persons. The CCT abides by an opening meetings rule.
COVID Grants Available to Churches
The conference has COVID grant funds for churches that are still available. The CCT encourages clergy in churches having financial pressure to apply for these COVID grants. The grants are offered for any church in the conference. In receiving COVID assistance, we demonstrate that the connection is a web of interactive relationships. God’s blessings and our Methodist theology teach us that grace flows both ways. Sometimes we are giver; sometimes, a receiver.
The Reverend Chris Brady, pastor of Wilson Temple UMC, shared his church’s good experience with a COVID grant that helped to supplement the church’s food ministry and pantry, and pastor’s insurances. Read his church story, along with more information about these COVID grants.
CFA Announcement Regarding Disbursements
Over the last several decades, our Council on Finance and Administration (CFA) leaders have made wise and careful decisions about investments that are resulting in strong market returns. As a result, the reserves are in a very good place right now. In their December meeting, CFA looked at what they had and said we want to give.
As a result of past generosity from United Methodist people and congregations of our conference, the CFA, after prayer and discussion, designated full apportionment payment to the general church and designated the same amount to be set aside to help local churches across our Annual Conference who are impacted by the continuing COVID pandemic. The CCT encourages churches to apply for COVID grant funding if your church is in need of funds to continue your ministry and strengthen vitality.
These disbursements do not take CFA past their reserve minimums or close to it. The CFA retains operational and functional funds that they can use for the financial ministry of the Annual Conference. The CCT gives thanks to God for CFA’s ability to offer these allocations and for the past leadership that has enabled the CFA to be in a position to assist. Read more at Connections: Generosity.
Year-End Budget Updates (updated with numbers from 1-14-2020)
As of January 14, we are at 85.57% in apportionments, with several churches still coming in. We hope to reallocate some line items that we are not spending during the pandemic (meeting and training expenses, etc.) and utilize savings from these areas to support other areas in 2021. In February, CFA will set the final operating budget for 2021. With the challenges surrounding 2020, this is a real success, speaking to our connection and our desire to be bound to each other.
Budgeting Process for 2023 Budget
Committees are in the process of completing their budgets for 2023, based the two primary purposes for Annual Conference: equipping local churches and providing for a connectional means of ministry. Committees submit these budgets to their appropriate CCT team, and these team budget compilations are due to Treasurer’s Office January 15. The next steps include approval by the CCT, CFA budget committee, full CFA, and Annual Conference. The approved budget will then be apportioned out to local churches, raised the next year (in this case, 2022), and spent in 2023.
Purpose of CCT
Because it’s important to rehearse and re-identify its responsibilities, the CCT emphasizes at each meeting its task at defined in the Discipline. Summarized, its purpose is the work of ensuring faithful alignment between the vision the CCT holds and the protocols and various ministries that evolve from it. The CCT is responsible for the overall conference visioning and priority.
Next CCT Meeting
CCT’s next meeting by Zoom is scheduled February 24.