By Tiffany Vail
Associate for Communication
Church contributions to Our Church's Wider Mission Basic Support and Fellowship Dues came in at about $29,000 below expectations in 2011.
Contributions to OCWM Basic Support - one of the Massachusetts Conference's two main sources of income - were down 5 percent in 2011 compared to 2010. A total of $1,736,916 was contributed, down $99,356 from the previous year. Of that, the Conference retained 47 percent and remitted the other 53 percent to the national setting of the United Church of Christ for national and international ministries.
In total, 25 percent of Conference churches increased their OCWM giving, 31 percent stayed the same and 26 percent decreased their contributions. Five percent gave in 2011 after not contributing in 2010; while 11 percent that gave in 2010 did not give in 2011.
Andy Gustafson, Associate Conference Minister for Stewardship, said that while the decrease was disappointing, it was not a surprise given the continuing difficult economy. He said contributions had been running at about five percent down all year.
Fellowship Dues, the Conference’s other main source of income, showed an almost 2 percent increase in 2011 over 2010, going from $99,149 to $1,011,763. The Dues rate did not change between 2010 and 2011: the increase instead can be attributed to church’s that were “catching up” on overdue payments from 2010.
A total of 23 churches paid Fellowship Dues in 2011 that did not pay in 2010. Still, 19 churches that paid dues in 2010 did not pay in 2011.
“There were increases and there were decreases: unfortunately the decreases were more," Gustafson said. "Nationwide, two-thirds of all donors expected to decrease their giving in 2011. Here in the Massachusetts Conference, some churches are doing well and are increasing their giving, while others are still struggling.”
Some of the decreases can be explained by timing issues - some churches are on a different fiscal year and did not remit their contributions in time for 2011. (Those contributions can still be made; they will be credited to 2012.) In other cases, churches have closed or are facing their own stewardship challenges.
Expense figures for 2011 are still being finalized, but Associate Conference Minister Dawn Hammond said that the $29,000 shortfall was covered by savings in program and by higher-than-expected revenues from Pilgrim Day Camp, a summer camp owned by the Conference and operated on the Framingham Conference Center site.