Investing in Something Greater

Our council met on Wednesday, 23 July 2014 to talk through some strategic issues ahead of the formulation of our 2015 budget in the next few months.  The diocesan council met on Saturday, 2 August 2014 where the first draft of the Central Fund Budget for 2015 was presented.

If you’re new to our church and especially to the Anglican church, here are a few tips on what unfolds over the next few months with our budget process.

Tip 1 – Some of the money that congregants give to the parish (local church) gets disbursed to the diocesan office to be paid back as the stipend of the local minister.  The payroll for all the clergy in the diocese is administered centrally from Pietermaritzburg and includes payments of medical aid and pension.  The minimum “diocesan assessment” for a local church covers the clergy package.  If a church can’t contribute that basic amount, they are saying they can’t afford a full-time minister.

Tip 2 – When we get to talk budgets you will hear the “diocesan assessment” spoken of like it is a tax, but it’s really not. First, it covers a minister’s salary. Second, it is a way for wealthier local churches to give towards the benefit of the greater whole. Our parish gives way beyond the basic minimum, which allows struggling churches to continue with a minister and hopefully bring the gospel to (and minister in) places where materially poorer people live. Third, through the giving of wealthier parishes, resources are invested in training new  ministers, running workshops to empower youth, train children’s workers, etc, in other words, investing in the future of the broader church.

Tip 3 – We aim to be transparent and accountable in all our dealings with the money that is entrusted to us. Our council will meet several times to give shape to and approve a new budget. In October we will present our 2015 budget to the whole church at a special vestry meeting (AGM) for discussion and endorsement. We then begin our financial year on the 1 January with a mandate from the church in place.  At an Easter vestry (AGM) we will present the audited financials of the 2014 financial year and account for how we spent the previous budget.  Our financials are open to scrutiny from any members.

If finances fascinate you or concern you, please be part of this year’s conversation around the 2015 budget.  If figures and columns of numbers daunt you, then pray for the process instead!