Investing More in Ministry in 2019
In its first full year of existence, the Tri-Conference Ministries (TCM) — a collaborative staffing model among the Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota Conferences UCC — showed a surplus of $118,781 in 2018. $50,000 of that surplus will go into cash reserves for the TCM, while the remaining $68,781 will be returned to each conference based on its percentage of contribution.
The TCM will credit funds to each conference in the amounts of $36,369 to the Iowa Conference, $18,991 to the Nebraska Conference, and $13,420 to the South Dakota Conference.
In 2018, each conference contributed to the TCM’s budget for shared staffing and related expenses determined by its percentage of members in the Tri-Conference area. The percentage rates are based on numbers of church members as reported through the annual UCC yearbook data in each of the three conferences.
Each conferences’ 2018 actual contributions and percentage were: Iowa – $509,188 (52.88%), Nebraska – $265,890 (27.61%), and South Dakota – $187,900 (19.51%).
The TCM board of directors attributes the larger-than-normal surplus to the fact that a full staff did not start until early 2019. The Revs. Ellis Arnold, Samantha Houser and Darrell Goodwin joined as Associate Conference Ministers in February and March of 2019. Tina Moore, who had served as a temporary accounting manager, was transitioned to permanent staff in 2019. The Rev. Nicole Havelka joined as Director of Communications in late 2018. They joined Executive Conference Minister Rev. Brigit Stevens, who started in January 2018 after being called by a vote taken at special meetings held by each conference in Fall 2018. They also joined Rev. Jonna Jensen, associate conference minister, and ministry support staff Diane Leggett, Jo Ordway and Karen Peters.
“We need to be realistic about 2019’s budget continuing to have a lot of ‘best guesses’ in it. But, holding back our operations reserve plus an additional $50,000 for this first year should provide the safety net we need,” said Rev. Stevens. “By returning money to the conferences, we ensure we are investing in vibrant ministries the way we intend to.”
The Tri-Conference Ministries (TCM) is a collaborative enterprise to creatively and efficiently share staff among the Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota conferences of the United Church of Christ. This collaborative model was born after many years of conversation, prayer, and discernment. In late 2015, a task force created to look into the possibility of collaboration between the three conferences recommended that a single staff serve them – not only to leverage administrative and financial efficiencies, but to live into the UCC’s hopeful motto, “That They May All Be One” in a new way. The three conferences did not merge, but entered into an agreement by which they would share one staff. All three conferences retain a separate board of directors with some of those board members (plus at-large members) also serving on a joint TCM Board. (Read more in the TCM Covenant Agreement.)
In the first 18 months living into the shared staffing model, Rev. Brigit Stevens, executive conference minister, ministry support staff, members of each conferences’ boards of directors and the TCM Board have worked very hard to begin to build the administrative infrastructure needed for the shared staffing model to function most effectively. The remaining team, mentioned above, are now working at full capacity.