Was there any talk about lowering our budget this year given a few churches and members leaving? I know there aren't many at this time, but it concerns me that we are increasing our budget in a time that seems like we should be more cautious.

There are several elements that create our budget.

  1. The apportionment base - this is the total expenditures of all congregations minus capital and mission expenditures. This decreased due to disaffiliations and there for the apportionment income will be lower.
  2. The apportionment percentage - this is the percent of a congregation’s apportionment base that is used to compute a congregation’s apportionment. This percentage remained the same as the prior year, 9.8%.
  3. Billings - pension, health care and property and liability insurance. These increase based on clergy compensation, health care increases and property and liability increases. These figures we have little control over and tend to drive increases in our total budget.
  4. Income from investments - based on market returns and the amount invested, this may increase or decrease our budget. These funds are used for grants to churches for mission and ministry.
    As you can see there are several factors that increase or decrease our budget.
    CCFA creates and will continue to create the budget around the apportionment base (which did decrease this year), the billed amounts, and the needs of the conference to grow mission and ministry. The budget itself had minimum growth while continuing to fund grants and provide assistance to local churches – all while maintaining the same apportionment percentage as last year. The fund policy approved by the body last year is in its second year of supporting the budget by over $700,000! As long as we follow our policies, this will continue to grow and keep the local churches from experiencing huge increases.

Given that a number of churches in our conference have disaffiliated, how does this affect the budget?

Our apportionment base decreased by just over $1 Million. Fewer churches are sharing the cost of apportionments. However, we are supported by our fund draw from investments which compensated for the decrease in the apportionment base. The billed funds are bills linked to the churches we have, so while there are less churches to pay, in effect, the disaffiliated churches took their bills with them.

With the churches disaffiliating where are the disaffiliation funds being deposited?

Last year the annual conference session approved a resolution providing instructions for how to disburse funds received from disaffiliating churches. All monies received go into various funds established in our fund policy except two (Archives and BSA settlement). These funds are then part of the investments from which we take a draw to help fund the budget. This year the fund committee recommended, and the investment committee approved, a 4.5% draw. The archive money goes directly to Old St. George’s UMC. In October of last year, annual conferences were asked to fund their portion of the BSA settlement in full, rather than use the 3-year payment window to ensure that the survivors of sexual abuse were able to access their funds. At that time, EPA paid the full cost out of our operating account. So, any funds received for this purpose go back into our operating account.

Why has the budget gone up from last year if we’ve lost churches?

Largely because increases in billed funds and normal increases. Our goal is always to manage the budget by stewarding the resources to hold costs down while we continue to grow our ministry with exciting new programs to help our leaders make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

MOU  (Memorandum of Understanding for the collaboration ministry with Greater New Jersey) cost sharing - it was said to fully live-into this we would make this commitment for 3 years.  For clarity - when does this timeline begin?  July 1, 2024?  Jan 1, 2025?   Or has it already begun?

While this ministry began with Greater New Jersey over the last two years, the timeline for cost sharing begins on July 1, 2024.

On Page 56 of the booklet it says that EPA CFA voted for Model #3 and GNJ CFA voted for Model #1 and Model #3. So, what happens with the GNJ CFA vote for at least partially Model #1

Both GNJ and EPA both approved Model 3 for reimbursement purposes and both GNJ and EPA will use Model 1, which includes all staffing in the collaboration for accurately tracking collaboration with full transparency. Model 3 is used for reimbursement  payments.  EPA just focused on the payment, fully intending to use model 1 to track collaboration and inform model 3 each year.  Both EPA and GNJ are in alignment on the process and models being put forth in the MOU.


What is an MOU?

A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is an agreement between two or more organizations that governs their collaborative efforts. The Memorandum outlined in the legislation is between the Eastern Pennsylvania Annual Conference (EPA) and the Greater New Jersey Annual Conference (GNJ) about how decisions will be made about collaborative mission and ministry done jointly by the two conferences in the areas of ministry, administration and financing for joint projects.

It is my understanding that Bishop Schol is retiring this year, and therefore we will receive a new bishop and could be subsequently aligned with a Conference other than GNJ. Is it wise for us to pass a budget and an MOU dependent on GNJ when we don’t yet know if we will be yoked with a different Conference in September?  Are we still going to work with GNJ after the realignment?

A small portion of the EPA budget is part of the disaffiliation. The larger part is our ongoing ministry, pension, health insurance and property and liability insurance. Of the $22 million budget, $257,000 Is based on the collaboration work. This would not warrant holding up approving the budget. We would need at least this amount to hire additional staff. Further, the Jurisdictional Conference in July will make final assignment decisions; however, in 9 out of 10 of the scenarios, EPA&GNJ are in alignment. The 10th which does not have EPA&GNJ together received the least support by the 70 person team preparing the presentation to the July Jurisdictional Conference. The College of Bishops in NEJ fully support partnerships and collaborative ministries.  7 out of 10 conferences in our Jurisdiction are currently collaborating together, and we anticipate that in the future, all conferences will be in a collaborative partnership.  Our Episcopal leaders throughout the Northeastern Jurisdiction are supportive of collaboration, and the assignment of a new Bishop will continue to support the leadership and direction of collaboration.

As new bishops are being reassigned within our jurisdiction, what would it mean if EPA and GNJ do not share the same bishop moving forward?  How does the upcoming episcopal change impact the MOU?

Collaboration will continue to be encouraged and needed throughout the Jurisdiction.  As shared above, the Jurisdiction and Episcopal leadership continue to support the work that EPA&GNJ are doing together. On the outside chance that this did occur, the new bishops and the leadership of EPA&GNJ and any other conferences involved would discuss what to continue and what not to continue. The collaboration between EPA&GNJ would need to continue for a least a year so that each conference could staff up to replace the collaborating staff.

To clarify, the yoking of Conference areas has been discussed but not decided?

Correct. Final decisions will be made by the Jurisdictional Conference July 2024. If the NEJ realigns the Episcopal Areas so that EPA&GNJ do not share a bishop the MOU Taskforces will reconvene with the episcopal leadership of the two conferences to discuss if and how EPA&GNJ will continue to collaborate. Should EPA&GNJ continue to share a new episcopal appointment, the Chairpersons of the Taskforce and/or Connectional Table will meet with the new bishop and the chairs of CFA, the CFO’s, the DCM’s, the Deans of the Cabinet and other appropriate leaders to discuss the MOU and next steps for the collaboration.


In this collaboration, we have moved from a model of 4 DRAs (who reported to EPA DSs) to 2 RAs (who report to a staff manager in GNJ). I fear the needs of our local churches and clergy are being overlooked in this model. Many of us feel it on the ground. Is our conference leadership aware of this struggle? How, if at all, is it being addressed?  

EPA’s 2019 Annual Conference approved moving to a model of two DRAs for all of EPA, with each DRA supporting two District Superintendents. This took effect in 2020. With the collaboration with GNJ, we organized into two regions in January of 2023, with each DRA serving a region. Unfortunately, we have had some staffing challenges since that time and often (including currently) only had one RA. Currently, the plan is to hire a new Regional Administrator for the North West region.  Until we are able to hire for this position, we are utilizing temps to assist with the workload.

It may be helpful to hear more about what the Assisting Superintendents will do in these new roles and how that will help to address some of the questions asked earlier about Conference response.

Two new Associate Superintendents have been appointed to begin July 1, 2024.  Associate Superintendents work closely with the regional team  to plan, organize and implement with assigned congregations a congregational development plan in any one or more of the following areas – sustainability, vitality or one of the specific markers of vitality, community engagement, ending the sin of racism, ending the sin of sexism and organizing the congregation for effective ministry so that congregations are growing in vitality, and sustainability and working to end the sin of racism and sexism.

Conversation Easement:

Is the Conservation Easement going to give some land back to the original inhabitants, Lenape-?  will this be included in the resolution for AC?

Giving land back to the original inhabitants has not been discussed in the easement documents or in the current resolution.  The Camping and Retreat Board looks forward to working with CONAM to learn more about ways to celebrate our Lenape foremothers and forefathers, to educate Eastern PA on the history of the original inhabitants and the current realities faced by descendants of the Lenape here in EPA and to determine next steps in our work together.

Are there any restrictions on how the grant money may be used?

The grant funds will be invested according to the Eastern PA fund policy.

Will this easement regulate the removal of any trees?

Yes, there are some regulations regarding removal of trees.  The removal would need to be in line with conservation principles as outlined in the easement.

Is a once a year walk through required by FPCCT?

Yes. FPCCT will do a walk through once a year.  These walk throughs are very educational and help us continue to think about conservation and good stewardship of God’s creation.

I assume that whatever grants are raised, will then have the $392,000 subtracted and paid back to EPA??

The payroll liability from pre-2000 will be paid back as part of the proceeds from the conservation easement, either initially or over time, as determined by CCFA and the Investment Committee.

Annual Conference:

Will we be using voting devices for all of our votes at annual conference this year? Can we please use voting devices for all votes at annual conference?

Voting devices will be provided for episcopal nominations (if needed) and for elections of reserve lay and clergy delegates to General Conference.  We are working with Padgett to prepare well for these elections using the electronic devices.

Will there be listening devices for those who have a auditory processing disorder?

Closed captioning will be provided.  In addition, ASL and Spanish interpretation will be provided.

Are we expecting anything form GC from coming before AC?

The constitutional amendments from General Conference will be voted on at the May 2025 Annual Conference.