The Board of Trustees of the Christian Reformed Church approved the budget for fiscal year 2016, which includes asking Synod 2015 to approve a ministry share amount of $339.48. That is the amount per adult member that churches contribute to support the shared ministry of the denomination. It is a 1 percent increase over last year. Ministry share giving is expected to bring in total of $22.5 million . It will be allocated to the church’s various mission agencies in the same proportion as previous years. The budget assumes a Canadian dollar running at 80 cents U.S. One quarter of the churches are in Canada.
Board members expressed some frustration that the budget is planned with an expectation of collecting only 60 percent of the ministry share amount requested. John Bolt, the CRC’s director of finance and operations, said the new budget is based on historic ministry share receipt, which in 2014 was 62 percent of the amount requested by synod delegates. “We bring a proposal [about ministry shares] every year to synod. In more than five years, I’ve never heard a dissenting voice,” he said. “Somewhere between synod and the local congregation, the yes becomes a maybe.”
The board’s finance committee expressed similar frustration. “When a church backs off on ministry share giving and there is no consequence, the perception is that it is okay with the denomination,” it noted in its report. “The denomination needs to follow up on diminished giving. Synod approves ministry share amounts, but churches don’t see this in the same light as other synodical decisions.”
The board has convened a task force to study financial sustainability for the denomination.
The board also heard from Bolt that the trustees of the Ministers’ Pension Plan will not be requesting a change in the amount churches must contribute to the ministers’ pension plan.
The CRCNA maintains two defined benefit pension plans for Ministers of the Word in the U.S. and Canada. The benefit for these plans is determined based on years of active participation and the final three-year average salary for ministers in the respective country prior to retirement.
The 2016 per-participant assessment for the Canadian Plan remains $9,840. Similarly, the U.S. per-participant assessment remains $7,704.