by Ed Woolf
Positive financial results for the Church of Brethren denominational ministries in 2017 include increased nets assets, positive investment returns, increased giving to core ministries, and increased giving to some restricted funds. Concerns include the continued use of designated funds to supplement income and a few self-funding ministries that sustained a net expense.
The Church of the Brethren’s net assets increased by $6.6 million from 2016. The increase was due to positive investment returns and the sale of the Brethren Service Center upper campus in New Windsor, Md. Funds from the sale were used to create the BSC Quasi-Endowment, which supports long-term sustainability of denominational ministries, and the Faith in Action Fund, which will provide grants to Church of the Brethren congregations to fund outreach ministries that serve their communities.
Congregational giving to core ministries remained level for the third year in a row with a total of $2,025,864, only 2.1 percent behind 2016. Individual giving to Core Ministries increased $60,885 for a total of $547,905, up 12.5 percent from 2016. Combined giving (from congregations and individuals) to Core Ministries increased $18,261, or 0.7 percent, for a total of $2,573,769. Core Ministries finished with a $196,930 net surplus. Income exceeded budget by $41,156 and staff were able to hold expenses below budget by $155,774.
Giving to the Emergency Disaster Fund totaled $2,317,258, up 31.1 percent from 2016. Increase in giving to the Emergency Disaster Fund was primarily due to the generous outpouring of support for the 2017 Hurricane Response. The Global Food Initiative Fund and Emerging Global Mission Fund both received fewer gifts than in 2016, totaling $198,245 and $6,560, respectively. Beginning in 2017, contributions to restricted funds included a Ministry Enablement Contribution of 9 percent to help cover costs associated with carrying out the intended purpose of the gift.
Combined giving for all denominational ministries totaled $6,052,179, down only 0.1 percent from 2016. Congregations gave a total of $4,346,724, up 9.2 percent from 2016, and individuals gave a total of $1,705,455, down 18 percent from 2016. Both total number of donors and total number of gifts increased from 2016.
Self-funding ministries rely on sales of goods, registrations, and services for income. Brethren Press finished the year with a net deficit of $70,769. Sales were $59,077 behind budget, due largely to delayed release of the “Inglenook Desserts” cookbook. The Material Resources program experienced a $18,196 net deficit, primarily due to the internal evaluation of a partner contract which resulted in limited income. Conference Office ended the year with a net surplus of $25,334.
Church of the Brethren staff and the Mission and Ministry Board are sincerely grateful for the continued generosity of our donors. All denominational ministries rely on the faithful support from our donors to carry out the Church of the Brethren’s mission and programs.
The above amounts were provided prior to completion of the 2017 audit. Complete financial information will be available in the Church of the Brethren, Inc., audit report, to be published in June 2018.
-- Ed Woolf is assistant treasurer and Gift Operations manager for the Church of the Brethren.