Equipping the local church for sound financial management

It didn’t take long for Laura Kendrick to put into practice what she learned in a financial management course offered by the Foundation.

One recent morning at First UMC in Gastonia, where she serves as staff accountant, Laura spotted a withdrawal she didn’t recognize on the church’s online bank statement.

Laura’s quick action prevented a scam attempt from being successful.

Not only did First UMC recover the funds, but the church also added a fraud detection tool to ward against future scammers. Laura credits the expertise she gained as a participant in the Certificate Program in Church Treasury.

“I was able to present some best practices to my Finance Committee that will safeguard the church,” Laura said.

Over the years, local church finance leaders have expressed a desire for more training. In response, the Foundation partnered with the WNCC Office of Treasury Services on a course designed to strengthen management skills.

“There are many people out there who want to do the financial work of the church, but yet don’t feel like they have the tools or knowledge to do that in an effective way,” said Foundation CEO David Snipes.

The challenges are clear. Fraud committed against churches worldwide may reach the $80 billion mark by 2025, according to Brotherhood Mutual, a leading insurer of America’s churches and related ministries. This amount may actually be higher because many cases of church fraud go unreported and therefore are not included in statistics.

“United Methodism is founded on accountability,” said Conference Treasurer Mark King. “The reason we’re called Methodists is because we’re so methodical in our spiritual disciplines. In today’s world, it is probably more important than ever. People want to know their church is keeping track — and doing the best it can with the gifts they’re giving.”

On four Saturday mornings via Zoom, participants learned about:

This year’s class of 26 participants and 21 graduates — along with the churches they serve — will be stronger and better equipped because of their commitment.

“I learned a lot about how to better organize our accounting responsibilities and what needs to be recorded and saved,” said Bridget Smith, Church Treasurer of Elbaville UMC in Advance.

For Laura, the takeaways from the program go beyond dollars and cents. She gained a new understanding of how United Methodist churches are uniquely connected to one another. Together, we do more for the Kingdom of God.

“Having worked for 25 years in various denominations, the background provided on Methodism was quite helpful,” Laura said. “Understanding the connectional aspect of the Methodist Church has definitely helped me approach my work differently.”

We commend these local church leaders for choosing to spend four Saturdays in service to the Church. We would like to extend special thanks to the participants, the presenters and the WNCC Office of Treasury Services for this ministry offering.

Not pictured: Anita King, Tina Brown, Patricia Withrow, Kenneth Campbell, Beth Weant, J. Gilbert Cox, Patricia Coviello, Sara D. Griggs

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