Introducing the context of the finance committee report to General Assembly, United Reformed Church treasurer John Ellis encouraged members of the Assembly to look realities in the face as, potentially, “the start of something fresh and new.”
He reminded members of changes to the economic landscape since 2010, when there were more grounds for hope that only short-term financial constraints would be necessary. Instead the ongoing picture of rising costs for the church, combined with falling membership and the resulting reduction in M&M giving - despite a rise in individual giving - meant we had to face up to “changes for the long haul.”
Mr Ellis urged a positive mindset for dealing with the budgetary challenges ahead, saying: “We are not about to go into free fall, but we owe it to our cheerful givers to face the stark realities. Challenges and trends need to be addressed so we don’t have to have finance dominating our lives like a miserable cloud.”
The task before Assembly, he said was to address the financial situation so that we can spend time “on more interesting things.” Rather than becoming despondent, members should see these challenges as “a prod from God” – to get on with the task of discerning the key priorities of the URC.