More than 25 churches in the Massachusetts Conference have thus far opted into United Church Mission, the new system for funding our common mission through the Conference and the National setting of the UCC that was approved at Annual Meeting last June.
The plan is that United Church Mission will eventually replace the current system in which churches contribute to Our Church’s Wider Mission Basic Support and pay Fellowship Dues. The change came in response to church members who had concerns about the OCWM/Fellowship Dues model, and after more than three years of study, conversation, prayer, and extensive vetting with local church leaders.Churches wishing to transition to United Church Mission for 2015 are asked to contact Jonathan New, Associate Conference Minister for Stewardship and Financial Development, by Dec. 15. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (508) 875-5233 ext. 231.
“ I am delighted that these churches have opted in already, and hope that a few more bold congregations will decide to join this group of leaders for 2015,'" said Associate Conference Minister Dawn Hammond. "The decision to make the transition to United Church Mission is challenging for some churches. It can mean making changes to accounting systems, and more significantly, it involves a shift in people’s understanding of stewardship as it relates to the shared ministries in which we are engaged as a Conference of churches."
"But United Church Mission makes so much sense," she added. "It is far easier for leaders to explain to their congregations than the former system, it is consistent with good Stewardship practice, and participating churches will no longer be tempted to reduce their membership rolls in order to save money. I think we are headed for a much simpler, more Biblically-based and inspiring system for sharing our resources.”
United Church Mission (UCM) contributions are based on a percentage of the prior year’s total income received by a local congregation as reported in its most recent internal Annual Report. Total income would include general operating income from all sources, as well as general missions giving, but not special giving such as capital campaign contributions, disaster relief, or special offerings.
Churches are asked, initially, to continue to give at least the same proportion of total income previously represented by Fellowship Dues and OCWM Basic Support contributions, such that the UCM contribution is not less than the combined amount of recent Dues and Basic Support given. Not unlike local church stewardship campaigns, churches will be encouraged to consider increasing this percentage gradually over time as they are able.
For more information on United Church Mission, visit: www.macucc.org/unitedchurchmission.