Dear to God,
Christ is in our midst! As our Finance Committee worked to prepare the standardized Parish Financial Report, it underwent several revisions as did the the instructions for completing the form. At the Frackville meeting it was pointed out that the instructions for completing the form had some errors, mainly dealing with line numbering. If you have not yet completed the form, please do so immediately using these revised instructions. This information is vital to have for an intelligent and informed discussion at our Diocesan Assembly in January.
On August 18th the Diocesan Council met at The Nativity of the Theotokos Church in Coaldale. Among the topics discussed was a recommendation by the Finance Committee concerning the transition to proportional giving from parishes to the Diocese in accordance with the resolution passed by the Diocesan Assembly in 2008.
The Finance Committee recommended that a gradual method be used for those parishes that are not yet ready to fully move to proportional giving. The following table showing proposed giving levels was recommended:
Giving Levels (feel free to give more)
How does Transitional Giving work?
1. In 2016 a parish can select a level from the table which shows how much per member (as reported in their census) and then a percentage of their operational budget to be added to make the giving total.
For example – depending on the level selected a parish with 50 members and an annual operational budget of 100,000 would give:
Level 1 - (50 members x $160/member) + ($100,000 x 0%) = $8,000/Year
Level 2 – (50 members x $120/member) + ($100,000 x 2.5%) = $8,500/Year
Level 3 – (50 members x $80/member) + ($100,000 x 5%) = $9,000/Year
Level 4 – (50 members x $40/member) + ($100,000 x 7.5%) = $9,500/Year
Level 5 – (50 members x $0/member) + ($100,000 x 10%) = $10,000/Year
2. After the initial level selection a parish must progress annually towards 10% minimum annual giving.*
For example – if a parish starts at Level 2, then the next year they must progress to Level 3, followed by Level 4, etc.
This method will move all parishes to a 10% giving level within five years.
3. Giving calculations will be based on either the prior 12 month’s actuals or next year’s budget number, but must be for an annual total.*
4. Giving will be based on all operational income:
o Pass-throughs should not be counted, e.g., Money collected for a charity that simply “passes-through” the parish’s accounts.
o Savings should not be counted, but investment and/or interest income should be.
5. During this first year the parish must declare the level they will use and have provided budget and census numbers to the Diocese. (Any parish which has not submitted their Standardized Financial Form and Census before the 2016 Assembly will start at level 1.)
* Incentive: The Standardized Financial Report must be filled out each year and submitted along with the Parish Census, as the Diocesan Council will need this information to prepare the next year’s budget. Parishes which do not submit their census and Standardized Financial Report on time will be assessed $170 per adult based on the most recent parish Census information on record with the Diocese.
Grounded in a spiritual understanding of stewardship
Though not within the purview of the Finance Committee, one of the key factors that they identified is that all giving in the Diocese must be grounded in a spiritual understanding of stewardship. Whether it be from the parishioner to the parish, the parish to the Diocese, or the Diocese to the Central Administration, all giving must be done in the spirit of Christian stewardship. We are all stewards of the material and financial possessions entrusted to our care. Not only must we ensure that our church properties are well-maintained and that our rectors are fairly paid, but we must also contribute to the work of the Diocese and the Central Administration, and the support of our Bishop and Metropolitan. Without the full hierarchical structure of the Church we risk losing the very essence of Orthodoxy and the characteristics that differentiate us from any local congregational church.
As we prepare to make this transition each Deanery will have a meeting scheduled by their Dean with a member of the Finance Committee to discuss the process of this transition more fully and answer any questions. Hopefully, this meeting will give clarity to the proposal and clear up any misconceptions or confusion before our Diocesan Assembly January 28-29, 2016 in Jermyn, PA.
During their meeting on June 16th at Christ the Saviour Church in Harrisburg, the Diocesan Council heard a lengthy report from Finance Committee Chairman and Diocesan Council member, Mark Linnehan. As a result, two recommendations of the Finance Committee (FC) were approved. One of the recommendations was concerning the method in which the Diocese will contribute to the Central Administration of the Orthodox Church in America in the future, the second was concerning standardizing the gathering of financial information within the Diocese.
The first recommendation from the FC was in response to the initial task assigned to the committee, which was to recommend a method to the Diocese for meeting financial obligations to the OCA. The committee recommended that the Diocese vote to accept Resolution 1: Proposed funding for the OCA which will be voted on at the upcoming All American Council in Atlanta, GA. (The full text of the resolution can be found at HERE). In brief, the resolution lays out a method for reducing the amount to be given to the OCA. Currently the Diocese gives approximately 56% of its annual budget to the OCA. The Resolution, as currently written, will allow a reduction to 46% in 2016, 40% in 2017, and 34% in 2018 and beyond. There is, however, a possibility that the final version of the Resolution will vary from what is currently proposed. The FC had been ready to propose a similar method, but the Resolution was more beneficial to the Diocese, so the Committee simply recommended adopting the Resolution.
The second recommendation from the FC was that each parish should use a common form to submit annual financial information. As part of its information gathering the FC had to review the available financial statements from each parish. The diversity of quality, quantity and age of information found made the summarizing and analysis of data very difficult. Rather than bother each parish treasurer for additional information, the FC members did their best to approximate information and enter it into a standard form which the committee had created. Once standardized, the information is much easier to consolidate, view, and analyze. A copy of the form, referred to as the DOEPA Parish Financial Report, was provided to the Diocesan Council for review and it was found to contain all of the information required to meet the annual obligation for record submission to the Diocese. (Note: Each year every parish is required to provide a financial report, minutes of the annual meeting, and a census to the Diocesan office, etc.). Soon a copy of this form will be provided to all parishes to gather more accurate and current information prior to our Diocesan Assembly. Information on how to fill out the DOEPA Parish Financial Report form will also be provided and the FC will answer any questions that parishes may have on how to fill out the form.
His Eminence Archbishop Mark commended the members of the FC for their work up to this point and stated that this work is important in helping the parishes and Diocese prepare for this transition to proportional giving, become more organized and, ultimately, more financially stable. The FC will continue to work its second task of recommending methods for the shift to proportional giving within the Diocese and is expected to provide recommendations to the Diocesan Council at its next meeting on August 18th in Coaldale.