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COD Recommends $7 Ministry Shares Increase

The Council of Delegates of the Christian Reformed Church is recommending that Synod 2018 approve an increase of $7 to ministry shares total. Ministry shares are monies collected from congregations for shared denominational ministries.

That brings the amount per adult member to $346.48 for the calendar year 2019. If approved, it will be the first increase since 2016. The reality is that the denomination only collects about 60 percent of the recommended amount each year from the churches.

The recommended allocation to the major ministry agencies and educational institutions remains the same. The additional money would be allocated to Congregational Ministries, which includes, among others, Faith Formation, Candidacy, Chaplaincy and Care, Pastor Church Resources, and Safe Church.

In other discussions by delegates, there seemed to be an expectation that the entire amount would go to Faith Formation for curriculum work. However, Safe Church also needs more resources.

John Bolt, Director of Finance and Operations for the CRC, said, “The $7 ministry shares increase comes with no strings attached and is not pre-designated for a particular ministry but will be allocated within Congregational Services by the leadership as needed.”

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I suspect that if Synod 2018 decides to forge ahead with the current policy of political lobbying, its call for increased "ministry shares" will have to be met by fewer CRC members/churches.

CRC churches/members who see CO Art 28 as a covenant of the CRC to stay out of political lobbying (among other things not "ecclesiastical).  If the denomination is unwilling to keep that covenant, the idea of keeping covenant (following denominal rules) breaks down, and another of those covenants is ministry shares.

Synod 2016 instructed the Board of Trustees to evaluate and prioritize all existing programs and ministries with the goal of reducing the intitutional footprint (Acts of Synod, 2016, p. 858).  I would like to know how an increase in ministry shares reaches that goal.  With recent changes such as the combining of Home Missions and World Missions into Resonate and the combining into one position the head of the Office of Social Justice and of Race Relations, I would think that there could be some reductions in the number of employees and the dollars spent, since presumably these measures helped to eliminate redundancies in ministries.  For FY 2016-2017, Congregational services spent $12,552,000 and employed 72 full time employees.  I believe that to steward our resources faithfully, more cuts need to be made no matter how painful these cuts might be.

A $7 increase works out to a roughly $1.6 million “tax” increase to what sounds like a slush fund. Without more explanation, line item by line item, as to what these funds will be supporting, these dollars should be left with the local congregations.

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