By Stan Friedman
DETROIT, MI (June 30, 2013) – Delegates to the 128th Annual Meeting of the Evangelical Covenant Church approved a $24.4 million budget during Saturday’s business sessions.
Dean Lundgren, vice president for finance and treasurer, pointed out that the budget format reflects the work of all mission and ministry initiatives, including core operating budget ministries, but also affiliated ministries such as Covenant World Relief, Paul Carlson Partnership, Sustaining Pastoral Excellence, Covenant Orientation, short-term and project missionaries, and missionary in-country projects, among others.
Lundgren said the budget reflected a conservative approach. The budget reflects an increase over the current budget of $23.85 million.
Lundgren had reported in his financial report on Friday that the denomination had a $280,315 shortfall in 2012 due to revenue shortfalls and “perhaps overly optimistic budget assumptions.” Local church giving was one percent below last year, but the budget had assumed a three percent increase.
Various efforts also are being made to lower expenses, including restructured and streamlined operations resulting in a reduction in the overall number of positions in Covenant offices, and holding the line on salaries for 2013, among others.
Following are the dollar amounts approved for the 2014 Mission and Ministry Budget allocations:
- World Mission – $9.43 million
- Compassion, Mercy, and Justice – $458,000
- Church Growth and Evangelism – $3.28 million
- Ordered Ministry – $1.32 million
- Christian Formation – $954,000
- North Park University and Theological Seminary – $1 million
- Women Ministries – $320,000
- Services shared by offices – $3.95 million
- Covenant World Relief – $1.4 million
- Paul Carlson Partnership – $1.4 million
Following are areas from which projected revenue is to come:
- Local Church Giving – $8.52 million
- Directed church ministry – $1.74 million
- Fees and expense allocation: $19.4 million
- Transfers – $1.17 million
- Communication sales – $470,000
- Rental Income – $290,000
- Additional Mission and ministry projects – $7.5 million
Giving has increased over the same period last year, it was reported. Donn Engebretson, director of global advancement, and Efrem Smith, superintendent of the Pacific Southwest Conference, asked delegates to encourage their churches to increase their financial support of Covenant shared mission and ministry.
Engebretson said the budget reflects the denomination’s priorities. “The budget is a ministry plan with numbers. God’s command to give is proof that he loves us,” Engebretson said, and shows that “God is a generous and extravagant giver.”
Engebretson added, “Giving is the most fun thing God has commanded us to do.”
Smith said three “P’s” should guide giving – percentage, progressive, and prioritized.
Churches are asked to give a percentage of their budgets to the ministry of the denomination and conferences. Smith asked that churches expand their giving as they grow in numbers. He added that churches should give according to the biblical principle of offering “first fruits.”
He reminded delegates that the denomination was started by immigrant Swedes with little money, who pooled their resources to form what would become a great movement.