How the Foundation’s 2024 budget plants seeds for renewal

Seeking to offer forward-looking leadership in a time of uncertainty, the Foundation’s Board of Directors approved plans to invest in new forms of ministry and help others adapt and grow in 2024.

Included in the annual operating budget is a 10% tithe of income to the Western North Carolina Conference for approximately $201,000, an expression of gratitude for the Conference’s partnership.

“This has been a challenging year for so many people in our churches,” said board chair Anne Martin. “The Foundation’s role is even more important in a moment like this. We are blessed to give back and, hopefully, help our Conference move toward renewal.”

Priorities for 2024 and beyond

Foundation President David Snipes shared the findings of a strategic visioning initiative to discern God’s vision for our future. The plan grew out of staff self-reflection work and conversations with 100+ clergy and lay leaders from across the Conference. The resulting blueprint will enable the Foundation to evolve and keep pace with the needs of those we serve.

While constituents expressed great appreciation for the Foundation’s ministry offerings, they also identified areas where more focus is needed.

Among the priorities are individual and corporate stewardship education; leadership training for lay people in the local church; and professional development for clergy in the middle and later stages of their careers.

“This is such an important time in the life of the United Methodist Church as we consider what God is calling us to do at this time and in this place,” David said. “As we listened to laity and clergy alike from throughout the Conference, the input we received provides valuable information that enables us to move forward in ways that are not only helpful, but also fulfill our mission.”

Giving thanks for past, present ministry

Even as new offerings emerge, long-established programs are still going strong. Next year marks the 25th anniversary of the Reynolds Program in Church Leadership, a signature Foundation offering that equips pastors to leverage their strengths and lead their congregations more effectively.

The UMF Development Fund has made 102 loans since its inception in 2006, providing $44.5 million in low-interest financing to help churches pursue new construction, expansion, major renovations, and debt refinancing. Loan clients benefit from competitive rates without upfront costs or prepayment penalties.

The board paused to remember the life of Rob Byrd, who passed away unexpectedly in October. Rob’s expertise proved invaluable during his time on the Investment Team, Financial Practices Team (Team Leader) and Board of Directors. Memorial gifts will go to the UMF Ministry Fund, which supports people and organizations doing God’s work in the Western North Carolina Conference.

As the staff prepares for a new year, we give thanks for the trust of our clients and the leadership of Foundation board members. These are the keys to fulfilling our mission to build the Church for generations to come.

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