EMC churches in southern Ontario gathered on March 9 to learn about the roles of church trustees and treasurers.
The churches of Region Nine had expressed their interest in knowing more, and the results of this day were positive: “A lot of things were clarified for me” said one participant. “I’ve never been trained,” added another. “Why didn’t we do this years ago?”
Darren Pries-Klassen, executive director of Mennonite Foundation of Canada, led the first workshop of the morning. He provided a helpful overview of how the charitable landscape has changed over the past years and offered practical examples of how the church can respond to these changes.
Drawing on the results of a recent survey of Anabaptist churches, Darren kept the attention of everyone as he presented the need for the church to be vigilant in turbulent times. He pointed out that there are now more than 180,000 charities in Canada and donors are less loyal to Church and Conference than in the past.
The research also demonstrates that donors who plan their giving will give more. The obvious challenge to churches is how they can promote planned giving. One example provided is offering the option of automatic withdrawal.
The second workshop provided a practical approach to common needs of every church treasurer, led by Allister Penner, a member of the EMC Board of Trustees and previously a local church treasurer. He covered areas around receipting and benevolence. The issue of benevolence was vigorously discussed, as this is an area that requires much clarification in many churches.
Allister pointed out that an increasing number of donations are designated for specific projects. If a church does not have a donation policy, it can be difficult to use designated funds if the original project cannot be fulfilled. Every church needs to have a donation policy that handles situations such as these.
General Secretary Tim Dyck presented the benefits provided by the Conference for the last workshop of the morning. Issues such as salaries and benefits for church staff and insurance needs of the church were presented and discussed. Tim reinforced the necessity for every church to have adequate liability insurance and presented the option of the National Insurance Plan provided by the Conference.
The matter of Clergy Residence Deduction was also covered during this workshop. There have been changes to how Canada Revenue Agency deals with the CRD, and churches need to keep up with the changing dynamics so that their pastors continue to receive this benefit.
After a break for lunch, the three presenters comprised a panel responding to questions from those in attendance. Judging from the length of time that this question and answer period lasted, there was significant interest in the material covered.
We are grateful to the volunteer treasurers and trustees who serve our churches, and especially those who took time on a Saturday to attend this event. We are also grateful to those who served as presenters. So, when and where will the next Treasurer’s Day be?