As the Christian Reformed denomination goes into its second fiscal year of collecting ministry shares via pledges, the amount pledged is $17.8 million USD, down by $667,200 USD from last year.
Some of that pledged money ($1.5 million) goes to Calvin University, as part of its $75 million in revenue. The other shares make up about one quarter (26%) of the denominational budget, outside of World Renew, with the rest of the revenue coming from individual donations, grants, estate gifts, and extra offerings by congregations. (World Renew is not included in the ministry share budget percentage because it does not receive ministry share income.)
Under the new CRC governance structure, the U.S. and Canada corporations each retain the ministry share funding from their respective countries. After setting aside funds for their country-specific ministries, a joint management committee made up of U.S. and Canadian members decides how to divide what is left between the two corporations. Each corporation then decides how much to allocate to the various denominational ministries.
Although the total amount of ministry shares pledged is lower, the percentage allocated to the various ministries has not changed significantly in either the U.S. or Canada corporations. One change is that the Canada corporation is no longer allocating ministry share funds to Calvin University. Last year it sent $47,000 USD. Greta Luimes, treasurer of the Canada corporation, told The Banner that local congregations in Canada will be encouraged to support Calvin University as they wish. “There is an ever-declining number of Canadian students enrolled at Calvin University,” she said. “Canadian youth are largely choosing Redeemer University (in Ontario) and King’s University (in Alberta) and others for their Christian post-secondary education.” Luimes also noted that the Canadian CRC has committed to new and expanded initiatives including the hiring of a new full-time senior leader for Indigenous ministry. Terry Veldboom, director of finance & operations for the CRC in Canada, said, “Gifts and offerings designated for Calvin University will continue to be processed.”
Ministry share reductions are felt particularly acutely in Congregational Ministries, which includes Candidacy, Chaplaincy and Care, Disability Concerns, Diversity, Faith Formation, Social Justice, Pastor Church Resources, Race Relations, Safe Church, and Worship ministries. Congregational Ministries receives almost all of its revenue via ministry shares. It cut $650,000 from its budget and then was asked to reduce it by another half million.
The reductions have resulted in a hiring freeze in Congregational Ministries and might require staff layoffs, which will be decided by July 1. Delegate John Lee, Classis Iakota, told the Council of Delegates that this has caused significant staff anxiety. At the same time, staff members have established an overall plan for closer collaboration between the various ministries through a major reorganization so that cutbacks will not eliminate ministry functions.
The Council adopted recommendations for salary range increases of up to 5% in Canada and 4% in the U.S., with merit increases going up by 4% in Canada and 5% in the U.S. Luimes, who also serves as treasurer of the full Council, noted that the cost of everything is going up. Employers in both countries are giving increases both to retain employees and support them well.
In explaining the ministry share income and allocations, Luimes told delegates that the decline is in part due to all the uncertainty in the denomination. That might change after Synod 2022, she said. Synod 2022 will deliberate on issues surrounding sexuality, including same-sex marriage, as well as major governance restructuring that has happened since synod last met in 2019. “The numbers may change,” she said, “but the percentages will be what is proposed.”
Editor's note: This story, updated on May 12, originally included a different number for the amount that Congregational Ministries cut from its budget, as recorded in a report to the Council's advisory committees. We were informed that the report was in error. $650,000 has been cut from the Congregational Ministries' budget.