Ministry And Mission Fund – Annual Letter To Local Churches
Dear Church Treasurer
The purpose of this letter and annexes is to provide local churches with an annual update on the Ministry and Mission (M&M) Fund, as requested by General Assembly. This letter is aimed mainly at church treasurers and provides some detailed financial information. Accompanying it is a Word document containing the text of a “thank you” letter to each person in your congregation. We hope this will find its way into church magazines/newsletters as well as synod newsletters and onto church and synod websites. Ideally, we would like every member of your congregation(s) to have sight of a copy. It will also be available on the stewardship page of the URC website along with other resources.
Just as we seemed to be emerging from the effects of the Covid pandemic the country has been hit with significant financial disruption through a jump in inflation to levels unseen for 15 years and a cost of living crisis for many. Some URCs have returned to some stability (a “new normal”) but many are now struggling with significant cost increases, particularly in relation to fuel costs. Synods and the central URC have responded with schemes to give financial assistance for helping with individual bills or strategic investment in improving buildings’ fuel efficiency.
As members of local URCs and Synods ourselves, we (as stewards of the national church finances) understand those pressures and we are living through the challenges with our
In 2022, the shared generosity of the Synods led to income to the M&M Fund of £16.8 million, £600k higher than the budget.
We hope the enclosed /attached letter adequately expresses the thanks of the finance officers of the national church. We hope it will also enable you to encourage your people to continue to be the generous and cheerful givers we are assured God loves (2 Corinthians 9 v.7).
Additional Financial Information
The letter to church members is deliberately light on financial data. Its main purpose is to say ‘thank you’. The additional information in our letter to you is to inform you and to provide you with resources to help with your discussions and presentations regarding future giving to the M&M Fund.
Summary of financial information – Annexes
Annex 1 gives a summary of the income and expenditure of the M&M Fund in 2022 as well as the budget for 2023. The annual budget is normally presented to, and adopted by, Assembly Executive at its autumn meeting of the previous year. The actual outcome, in the form of the statutory accounts of the URC Trust, will from now on be reported to General Assembly each year. The audit of the 2022 statutory accounts is nearing completion as we write.
When the statutory accounts are finalised, they will be made available in the Finance section on the Church website. If you want a printed copy, please contact the Finance Office at the above address. These accounts cover all the central finances of the United Reformed Church, which is principally the M&M Fund but also includes other Funds such as the Retired Ministers Housing Society.
Overall, the figures in Annex 1 show a deficit (i.e. excess of expenditure over income) for 2022 of £1.9 million. However, this was largely anticipated due to the very large increase in future benefit contributions required to the pension schemes. The change of those schemes from defined benefit to defined contribution funding with effect from 1 March 2023 essentially closes off the funding of deficits, through the commitments of Synods given last year for a deficit reduction plan through to 2030.
In late 2022 we made a payment to each stipendiary minister to assist with the cost of living rises – this was not something we had planned for in the budget and cost around £274k.
Annex 2 summarises 2022 income and expenditure in the form of pie charts.
The giving of local churches to the M&M Fund reduced by £400k (2.5%) to £16.8m in 2022, but in the post-Covid recovery period, this is a another remarkably good result. Investment and other income took the gross income of the M&M Fund to a total of £18.8m.
Total expenditure in 2022 was about £100k less than budget.
The costs of stipendiary ministers and church related community workers, including training, stipends and pensions, represent around 80% of total expenditure.
Budgeted income for 2023 includes a possible reduction of 2% on church contributions
(based on synod projections) and investment and other income similar to 2022, so that gross projected income is almost £18m.
Budgeted expenditure for 2023 is £18.6m, significantly lower than the actual 2022 expenditure, mainly due to the additional pension contributions taken as part of normal remuneration which ended in February 2023 on the change of pension scheme arrangements.
In the table below, “Direct Ministry Costs” relate to stipends, pension and NI contributions for stipendiary ministers and CRCWs. “Ministry-related Costs” include the costs of ministerial training and synod moderators. The wide variety of other work funded centrally, including discipleship development, children and youth work, ecumenical and international links, governance and administration are bundled together in “Other Costs”.
The central column does not mean that each minister costs £58k. It means that the total budget supported by M&M giving works out at about £58k for every minister deployed in local churches. The right-hand column suggests that giving of £486 per member is needed. This is, of course, an average. We are all asked to give according to what we can afford and
as we sense the call of God on our finances.
URC Ministers’ Pension Fund
As we reported to Synod Treasurers recently, the challenge of covering deficit contributions on the existing Ministers’ pension scheme has been met by a “family solution to a family problem” with extraordinary commitments to contributions made by all Synods. These contributions are held in a restricted fund separate from the M&M Fund. Contributions are made across to the Ministers’ Pension Fund on an agreed basis (the Schedule of Contributions) and reported quarterly.
The move to a URC Pension Fund based on a defined contribution scheme was effected from 1 March 2023.
Contributions to the M&M Fund in 2022 and beyond
Thank you for your continuing efforts over this past year’s extraordinary circumstances to maintain the income of your local church and thereby to make your contribution to the M&M Fund. We do very much appreciate all that you are doing, and encourage you to continue through 2023 as you and we plan for 2024 and beyond.
If you have any questions about anything in this letter, please do not hesitate to forward your questions/comments via the Finance Office at Church House on 020 7916 8644 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for all the time and expertise that you give to your local church and through it to the wider church. Financial stewardship plays an important part in the life of the church and your contribution is appreciated.
Yours in Christ
On behalf of the URC Finance Committee
Immediate Past Treasurer