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2010 Annual Gathering Report of the Director of Finance, Administration & Communication

by Keith Clark
Director of Finance, Administration & Communication

 
Finance
2009 was a year of many challenges for our Conference.  The market crash in the Fall of 2008 had immediate impact on the Conference financial situation.  In addition to suffering losses in our investments, the real estate market plunged delaying the sale of two properties on the market at that time.  This restricted our Cash Flow and a loan against the future sale of these two properties was obtained from The Cornerstone Fund. 

The Conference Board of Directors carefully monitored the situation and took steps early in the year to ensure cash flow would be preserved and the basic functions of the conference would continue.  In January of 2009 the Board reduced the overall budgeted net loss by $336,625. 

The Conference budget is made up of two major sections; “Basic Conference Operations” and “Other Program Funds.”  The Basic Conference Operations portion of the budget derives revenue from Our Churches Wider Mission (40% of this offering is sent on to the National Setting), Per Capita Dues (currently $12.00 per member) and the gifts from individual “Friends of the Conference.”  This revenue supports the basic conference operating budget. 

The other portion of our budget is the “Other Program Funds.”  This portion of our budget has derived the majority of revenue from the one time sale of properties the Conference has received in past years.  Because property sales do not occur every year and we do not budget for them, our “Other Program Funds” budget will always reflect a net loss.  Until the fall of 2008, this meant we were spending property proceeds received in previous years.  When we have had a net loss in the “Basic Conference Operations” portion of our budget, we have been compensating for it by spending other assets and reducing the amount available for our “Other Program Funds.”

When the market crashed and it became apparent that we would not sell either of the two properties we had on the market during 2008, we took a loan with The Cornerstone Fund to ensure the Conference would have adequate cash flow until such time as the properties did sell.  Because the valuation of these two properties had diminished from the value assessed when the Mission for The Year 2000 Plan was written, it became imperative that the Board evaluate how the proceeds from the remaining two properties would be utilized. 

The board was able to reduce the budget for “Basic Conference Operations” by $36,874 and reduce the budget for “Other Program Fund”s by an additional $299,751.  Additionally, the budget for 2010 presented to Annual Gathering last year reflected an additional overall reduction of $436,859.  This included reductions in staff and the curtailing of funding for some of our new church starts. 

The Board of Directors has set a goal for the “Basic Conference Operations” portion of the budget to be balanced by 2013.  Even with the further reduction in staff (one Conference Minister and no Associate Conference Ministers) the 2010 budget reflects a $97,232 deficit.   The only way to meetthe balanced budget goal by 2013 is to increase projected revenue.

To help increase revenue, a Financial Development Team was organized.  This team was given the task of raising an additional $52,416 during 2010.  The Tour of the Pacific Islands Luau is a fundraiser being planned to assist in meeting this goal.  They are also working to raise awareness of and giving to Our Churches Wider Mission, Per Capita Dues and individual giving by the “Friends of the Conference.” 

During Annual Gathering we will review the financial reports for the period ending December 2009.  You will see that the Conference has $6,036,834 in Assets, $714,651 in Liabilities and $5,322,183 in Equity.  The Liabilities include our loan from The Cornerstone Fund ($600,000) that was taken out in the fall of 2008 to meet cash flow needs.  Despite the cash flow challenges we face, the Conference is solvent and has sufficient current assets to meet liabilities. 

The Conference was able to sell the residential property in Newport Beach that had been on the market; therefore, instead of a net loss of $910,102 in 2009 we had net income of $734,183.  Our second property, the former La Mesa Church in Santa Barbara, is currently being negotiated for sale.  The details of this sale are still under negotiation but the revenue from the property should be realized over three years.  This would allow us to pay off our loan with The Cornerstone Fund and carry on the “Other Program Fund” ministries of the Conference for several more years.

The Board adopted a new Strategic Plan for Church Vitality, developed by Gary Roberts, Associate for Church Development & Renewal and the Church Development Implementation Team.  The Board also accepted a new budget that reflects the goals of that strategy, working within the finite resources available.  The total net loss in the proposed 2011 budget is nearly $1 million less than the net loss for last year (2009) approved by the Annual Gathering.
 

Administration
The Conference staff reductions taken during 2009 have increased the work load for the remaining staff.  We have been fortunate to have volunteers like Priscilla Garcia, Milt Hoffman, Sharon Roberts, Alice Scott, Elsa Seifert, Craig Thorsen and others to assist with answering phones, completing data entry and preparing mailings.  It is the help of volunteers in every aspect of the Conference ministries that have enabled us to continue moving forward.  If you are interested in helping support the ministries of the Conference by volunteering time in the Conference office, please contact me (626) 798-8082 ext. 12 or clark@scncucc.org.

In order to meet the financial goals placed before the Financial Development Team and to provide greater support for the remaining staff in the office, we replaced our antiquated database with a new ACT 2010 database.  This new database will allow us to track in more detail the giving patterns of churches and individuals within our Conference.  It will also help to simplify some of the many tasks that Virginia Arroyo, our Administrative Assistant and Search & Call Coordinator must complete.  We need your help in ensuring we are kept current of names of staff and officers in your church, addresses, phone numbers and e-mail addresses.
 

Communication
Another area of great change during 2009 for the Conference was in the area of communications.  The Information & News Committee (INC ) was formed in the fall of 2008.  This newly formed committee was charged with reviewing, evaluating, and making recommendations regarding current communication tools being utilized as well as those not yet being utilized.  The committee immediately began research and testing of video-conferencing options, exploring social media (e.g. Facebook & Twitter), investigating the option of hosting an online magazine and gathering information to develop a Communications Policy & Guidelines Manual.

During those twelve months, INC proposed a Conference Communications Policy & Guidelines Manual, introduced video-conferencing for small meetings and webinars, designed and set policy for an online magazine, established a presence for the Conference on Facebook and Twitter, and began looking at how to make the Conference website more interactive.  This committee continues to meet and discuss how to improve communications within the Conference.

Your Information & News Committee: Rev. Roger Barkley, Mr. Daryl Burns, Ms. Mary Domb Mikkelson, Rev. Dave Pomeroy, Rev. Betty Sue Sherrod, Rev. Leoaga Tanuvasa, Mr. Keith Clark (Staff) and Rev. Art Cribbs (Advisor)

One of the major accomplishments of INC was the design and launch of the online magazine, Connecting Voices.  This new online magazine was originally conceived as a compliment to UC News, but ultimately became the only alternative for local Conference news when the National UCC determined that they would no longer produce UCNews in print due to skyrocketing costs for the newspaper’s production.  (see United Church News To Cease Print Publication, Move Online Exclusively).

An editorial committee was recruited and formed.  This committee is responsible for reading, evaluating and editing articles submitted for inclusion in Connecting Voices.  The online magazine launched in September 2009.  To date, over 120 articles have been published.  The majority of these articles were written by members of our Conference.  The rest have come to us from members of the National church or from affiliated ministries.

Your Connecting Voices Editorial Committee: Rev. Art Cribbs, Ms. Robinmarie McClement, Mr. Michael Barrett, Ms. Jeannie Halverson, Ms. Mary Domb Mikkelson and Mr. Keith Clark (Staff).

It is an honor and privilege to be able to serve with each of the individuals named in this report and side by side with all of you.  I look forward to seeing you at the Annual Gathering.

Namaste!

Proposed 2011 Budget
Keith Clark, Director of Finance, Administration & Communication

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