Celebratory JAM Includes Budget Talks

At the first-ever Joint Annual Meeting of the Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota conferences, we worshipped in inspiring ways, engaged in deep conversations, fostered new connections and installed four associate conference ministers.

Installation of Revs Ellis Arnold, Darrell Goodwin, Samantha Houser and Jonna JensenDuring that gathering, we also held the annual meetings of the Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota conferences which includes conversations about each conferences’ budget. Each conference presented their final budget reports for 2018, current 2019 budgets, and proposed budgets for 2020. Tri-Conference Ministry 2020 budget was included in the conversation to highlight the scope of ministry that we will do together in the coming year. Here are some highlights from the individual conference financial reports:

South Dakota

In 2018, actual revenue and expenses were both lower than expected. While the conference took in 7.9% less revenue than projected, conference expenses were 9.6% lower than anticipated. As a result, the South Dakota Conference ended 2018 with over $40,000 surplus.

The proposed budget for 2020 anticipates a 1.6% increase in revenue with a 4.1% increase in expenses. The conference therefore proposed a budget with a $7,000 deficit for the conference.

Placerville Camp ended 2018 with net income of $3,500. The 2020 included a significant increase in the salary and benefit compensation package for the camp director, Kerry Steever. The gathered body voted unanimously to approve this change which brings the salary and benefits up to current clergy compensation guidelines.


The Nebraska Conference’s 2018 budget originally anticipated a deficit of $23,054. Because revenue was 9.8% higher and expenses only 0.3% higher than budgeted, the Nebraska Conference ended 2018 with a surplus of nearly $14,000.

The proposed 2020 budget projects a 5% increase in revenue as well as a 12.7% increase in expenses, mainly due to increased TCM expenses and program expenses related to conference hosting their individual annual meetings. The conference board of directors therefore proposes a budget with a $49,742 deficit. In the coming year, the board will be looking at restricted accounts and investments to be good stewards of all their funds.


The Iowa Conference’s 2018 budget originally proposed a deficit of $36,341, but ended the year with only a $208 deficit thanks to the sale of the Open Door UCC building in Sioux City, IA, the proceeds from this closing church were shared between the South Dakota and Iowa conferences. Actual expenses and revenue were both approximately 5.5% lower than budgeted.

In 2020, the Iowa Conference projects a 4.7% increase in revenue, including a regular annual $100,000 transfer from investments, and a 5.1% increase in expenses, due largely to a 10% increase in TCM expenses. The Iowa Conference therefore proposes a 2020 budget with a $38,091 deficit. 

Tri-Conference Ministries (TCM)

In 2016, the Iowa, Nebraska, and South Dakota Conferences voted to implement the Tri-Conference shared staffing model. Under this model, the three conferences share one Executive Conference Minister, and four Associate Conference Ministers deployed geographically. Additionally, the three conferences share one unified support staff and two physical offices. This model allows the ministerial and support staff to have a greater impact, and allows for more efficient resource allocation.

TCM finished 2018 with a $118,781.27 income surplus. From that surplus, $50,000 goes to a cash reserve. The remainder is credited to each conference based on how much they contributed. The Iowa Conference will receive a $36,369.06 credit, the Nebraska Conference will receive a $18,991.32 credit, and the South Dakota Conference will receive a $13,420.89 credit.

The 2020 TCM budget projects a 5.7% increase in revenue from 2019. The three conferences share the increase according to church membership in each conference.

(Read more about the 2018 surplus.)

TCM expenses are also expected to increase 3.4% from 2019, but the overall TCM budget is balanced for 2020. New expenses include a 27% increase in support staff expenses and $15,000 for spiritual direction or coaching for the Executive Conference Minister and Associate Conference Ministers.

We celebrate the progress we’ve made with this shared staffing model and we look forward to what the budget will enable us to do in the coming year.

Written by Jennifer Duann Fultz with Rev. Nicole Havelka and Rev. Brigit Stevens.

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