Update on Hurricane Matthew Relief in Haiti

Disaster Recovery Ministries Team

December 02, 2016

December Newsletter By Tom & Wendy Vencuss Last Monday (November 21) we returned from a week-long, whirlwind trip to Haiti. Much of our time was spent in meetings, formal and informal. We met with Eglise Méthodiste D'Haiti  (EMH) leadership, Lauren James from UMCOR, Dr John and Sharon Harbottle, the EMH head engineer, the UMCOR agriculture specialist, Pastor Ezaus, and so many of our friends. While the visit was great, it was also hard, as Haiti is once again going through a ...


Steeple Cell Tower Revenues

Ross Williams

November 30, 2016

Dear Treasurers and Finance Chairs (cc to Pastors), Many of our churches continue to operate in a very challenging environment as a result of an aging membership, decreased attendance and worship facilities that are far larger than needed.  Some churches have been able to create supplemental revenue streams through the lease of interior steeple space to telecommunication companies.  The leasing of "real property" such as a steeple by a 501c3 is generally exempt from taxation.  But there are ...


IMPORTANT UPDATE: Fair Labor Standards Act

Ross Williams

November 28, 2016

Dear Treasurers and Finance Chairs (copy to Pastors), I previously sent an e-mail on October 3rd (see attached) summarizing new Department of Labor regulations for the payment of overtime that were to be effective December 1st.  The new requirements would have raised the threshold for "exempt" employees (those who are not paid overtime) from $23,660 to $47,476.  Last Tuesday, a Federal Judge in Texas issued an injunction blocking the implementation of these new requirements. What this means is...


Electronic Giving through Vanco

Ross Williams

November 21, 2016

Dear Treasurers, Finance Chairs & Stewardship Chairs (copy to pastors)  The General Council on Finance and Administration of the United Methodist Church has recently expanded their relationship with Vanco Payment Solutions, a provider of giving technology for faith based organizations, to help churches strengthen financial stewardship. Through their Empowering Generosity program, Vanco encourages and facilitates the adoption of electronic giving to enable churches – and their members – to ...


Helping the Questioners Find Their Answers

Jim Stinson, Consultant on Older Adult Ministries

November 16, 2016

There is nothing like a fall day—looking out the sliders and watching the leaves blow off the trees—to get the thoughts flowing. It seems as if the newness of spring and the warmth of summer came and went without a warning. Thoughts of all the passages of life. Thoughts of the people I have loved who have died. Thoughts of churches served and friends of yesteryear. Thoughts of sick loved ones and dear friends. Thoughts of 13 years working with and ministering to older adults. And then a specific...


The Journey Continues, ... Responding in a Post-Election World

Bishop Thomas J. Bickerton

November 12, 2016

This week I have had a series of conversations with pastors in our annual conference regarding the events surrounding the recent presidential elections.  During the course of those visits, a similar statement emerged from each one – “What do you say when you don’t know what to say?” The events leading up to, surrounding, and following the elections will be studied and analyzed for years to come.  Those events go deeper than two candidates.  This was a vote that revealed a deep and significant ...


Haiti update from “Humanitarian Response”

November 10, 2016

Of the 806,000 affected people who are at the “extreme level” of food insecurity, 426,000 people (or 53 per cent) have so far received food assistance.   Continued security incidents targeting convoys of humanitarian supplies hinder the much needed delivery of assistance.   During the reporting period, heavy rains in the departments of Grand’Anse, Nord-Est, and Nord led to the death of 10 people (three women, four men, and three children). Three others are wounded and one is missing.   With crop...


Church Insurance

Ross Williams

October 31, 2016

Dear Pastors, Treasurers, Finance Chairs and Trustee Chairs: It is very important that churches carry adequate Property & Casualty insurance on their buildings, vehicles and operations.  This is because one uninsured incident can result in significant financial costs and potentially, the closure of a church's doors.  Being adequately insured is probably the single-most important action a church can take to protect it's assets, it's people and it's ministry from unforeseen events. When it comes ...


Hurricane Matthew Response

Bishop Thomas J. Bickerton

October 24, 2016

Dear Friends & Colleagues, Just a short three weeks ago Hurricane Matthew began a path of destruction and chaos through Haiti and the southeastern coast of the United States. In the wake of the storm over 800 lives were lost and countless others were left without home or shelter. Less than two weeks ago, the aftermath of the storm created historic flooding in North Carolina leaving some towns completely under water. Last week I had the privilege of being with Bishop Jonathan ...


Volunteer Auditors Needed

Ross Williams

October 21, 2016

Dear Treasurers and Finance Chairs (cc to Pastors), From time to time I receive requests to supply a resource that can perform audits or serve on a team of outside auditors.  Sometimes the request arises because there is no one within the church that is independent, like in the case of a very small congregation.  Other times, the request relates to concerns over irregularities that may have occurred in the administration of finances at a church. I know we have a tremendous number of talented ...


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