The Ohio Conference Board made decisions on the use of Pilgrim Hills sale proceeds, approved Make a Difference grants, and took several other actions at its meeting on December 8.
Final details of the sale of Pilgrim Hills were available to the Conference Board of Directors at the December meeting. The closing of the sale and transfer of funds took place November 27, and the $2.5 million sales price resulted in nearly $800,000 more than was originally contemplated.
In August, the Board approved a resolution to use the sales proceeds to establish an endowment of $1 million to generate income to support Faith Formation throughout the Conference, including Outdoor Ministries; to pay off a debt of $256,000 incurred for outdoor ministries in previous years; and to add approximately $120,000 to other funds already available for improvements at Templed Hills.
The higher sales price from Pilgrim Hills gives us expanded opportunities, including seed money to revitalize outdoor ministries. The Outdoor Ministry Business Plan that was presented at the Annual Gathering of the Conference in September and approved by the board in October forecasts continued deficits in outdoor ministry. This is largely due to the addition of a full-time employee to provide leadership for outdoor ministry, specifically the employment of a Transitional Outdoor Ministry Coordinator to be replaced by a permanent Director of Outdoor Ministry to be employed sometime in 2018. With the continued declines in OCWM income, it isn’t reasonable to expect that it can fully support this ministry and still be faithful in what we forward to the national church.
At the December meeting, the Board affirmed the previous resolution and voted to add the additional proceeds from the sale to the proposed endowment fund, with the following provision:
Anticipating continuing declines in OCWM income, expected deficits in outdoor ministry programming and the possibility of emergency repairs at Templed Hills, as well as the expense of developing a comprehensive Faith Formation program and the employment of a Director of Outdoor Ministries, limited withdrawals of this portion of the endowment may be approved by the Board to support the work of Faith Formation and development of Templed Hills. Any such withdrawals of principal will be carefully considered so as to maximize the size of the endowment and the income it will generate. Outdoor ministry operations will be closely managed, and related deficits should decline over time but are not expected to completely disappear. However, within a few years, income from the endowment should be sufficient to cover future deficits.
These proposals are laid alongside the report of continued decreases in OCWM income throughout 2017. Treasurer Sam Buehrer indicated that through October 2017, OCWM income was 17.6% less than the same period in 2016. Expenses were down by 9.2%. Fees for the 2017 summer outdoor ministry program were increased, and the number of campers increased by almost 7%.
All proceeds of the sale are currently deposited in United Church Funds. A meeting with representatives of United Church Funds is planned to review options for the most effective investment opportunities.
The Board also considered a request received from the Eastern Ohio/Western Reserve Associations that the two Associations, having completed their merger of committees, staff, and administrative councils, be named one Association. The Associations plan a contest to arrive at a new name.
The Board recognized there are certain amendments needed to the Conference by-laws when such action is taken. Reacting favorably, the Board indicated that the request and proposed amendments to the by-laws will be forwarded for action at the September 2018 Annual Gathering of the Conference.
Among the several other items of business, the Board approved the recommendations of the Make a Difference committee, and approved updates to the Wolff seminary scholarship fund and the Benevolent Institutions Endowment Fund.
During the luncheon, Moderator Cathy Green presented gifts to Nicole Havelka whose contract with Ohio Conference ends in December, and to Pam Brown, Conference Administrator, who retires on December 22, 2017, after 17 years of service to the Conference. Guests and Board members offered tributes of praise and thanksgiving to recognize the contribution each has made to the life and vitality of the Conference.
The next meeting of the Board of Directors will be February 23, 2018.