What about the $$$ ?
What about the $$$ ?
Another question being asked is about the financial implications of the vote to move to 4 districts. Our financial picture is challenging and complex. Your conference leadership has done a remarkable job in achieving some extraordinary and promising work toward growth and vitality on a shoestring of a budget. Knowing that many churches are challenged financially, our expenses have been carefully monitored and drastic cuts have been made.
These cuts have been difficult and painful, but we have trimmed our expenses when possible and have made some dramatic sacrifices in order to spend your apportioned dollars wisely. For example, in July of 2011, one staff position, the Director of Connectional Ministry, was eliminated in order to reduce Conference expenses and provide some financial relief for our churches. The office of the Director of Stewardship and Finance has been likewise working to carefully monitor spending and to inspire us all to give generously for the work of the Annual Conference.
As a result, our financial picture, while not as positive as we would like it to be, is not as dire as some predicted. Fortunately even while we have reduced our budget significantly, we still have budgeted to allow for 4 Assistants to the Bishop with District responsibilities, and 1 General Assistant to the Bishop beginning in July of 2012, to give continuity to the positive direction that I am seeing in our Annual Conference. I believe further efforts to cut our expenses would ultimately harm our efforts to bring vitality to our congregations.
How does one know when the giant ocean liner is being turned? As I talk with laity and clergy in our Conference, I detect a subtle but undeniably hopeful spirit. As we proceed into the future, I know that we are experiencing positive changes in many ways. I believe we can do just this as we move to 4 districts.
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Robert Hoshibata is Bishop of the Phoenix Area of The United Methodist Church and presides over the Desert Southwest Annual Conference. Hoshibata presided over the Oregon-Idaho Conference from 2004-2012 and his blog postings are here for reference.