The Board of Trustees of the Christian Reformed Church is proposing an increase in ministry shares of 1 percent to Synod 2014 (the annual leadership meeting of the CRC). Ministry shares are the monies collected per adult member for shared denominational ministries.
If approved by synod, the 1 percent increase will bring the annual amount per member to $336.12. Most of that increase will go to the special assistance fund that assists ministers with their final move at retirement and helps retired ministers or their surviving spouse who are in financial distress. In the United States the fund also pays health insurance premiums for ministers who become totally disabled.
John Bolt, the denomination’s director of finance and administration, said that after a number of years of not putting much into the special assistance fund, it is getting low. Ministry shares previously allocated for Faith Alive are now directed to the faith formation group. That group includes some of the specialized ministries personnel as well as remaining Faith Alive staff.
The board’s finance committee noted that the weaker Canadian dollar and discontent with the direction of The Banner are both having an impact on giving in the denomination. In 2013, Canadian churches remitted almost 70 percent of the requested amount; U.S. churches remitted 58.5 percent of the requested ministry shares.
The finance committee also noted that the reduction in the giving level included some of the largest churches in the denomination. Funds not received through ministry shares need to be raised by the individual fundraising staff of the agencies and institutions, significantly raising the administrative costs to these groups.
The finance committee is also strongly encouraging the use of video and other technology to help control travel expenses for the ministries and agencies, which exceeds $3.6 million annually