February 5, 2018

Member Contributions Drop at National Council of Churches

Audited financial reports show that the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA (NCCCUSA) is receiving significantly less money from its member communions than it has in past years.

The ecumenical council has posted an audit of their 2016 year. Grants and contributions are down significantly from the previous year (2015), although they are more modestly down compared to the year before that (2014):

Member Communions 2014: $613,781
Member Communions 2015: $847,823
Member Communions 2016: $582,986

Other giving to the council, which includes gifts from individuals, has also declined:

Others (including individual giving) 2014: $187,856
Others (including individual giving) 2015: $202,804
Others (including individual giving) 2016: $149,669

Decreases in member giving do not mean that the council is in trouble – unrestricted net assets have significantly increased for the past three years, growing from $1.3 million at the end of 2014 to $1.6 million at the end of 2015 to $2.4 million at the end of 2016. Changes in expenses and investment returns have contributed to total net assets for the council. The NCC budget is partly sustained from royalties like the NRSV Bible, as well as investment income.

But revenues have dropped a significant amount, and the council is taking in less from Member Communions than ever before:

Total Operating Revenues (2014): $2,531,743
Total Operating Revenues (2015): $2,833,445
Total Operating Revenues (2016): $2,174,484

The council has gravitated towards politically liberal causes for much of its history, but financial difficulties and reorganizations have caused much of that programmatic work to be concluded or spun off into separate organizations. In recent years, the NCC has chiefly focused its resources upon issues of peacemaking (pacifism) and criminal incarceration.

In 2006 the NCC had an approximately $12 million budget and employed 40 staff, most of which were based in the now-shuttered New York headquarters. Today, the council has an annual budget one-quarter the size and lists seven staff and a single office at the United Methodist Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

No member communion has severed a relationship with the NCC since the departure of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America in the mid-2000s, but participation by member communions has decreased. Customarily, about one-third of the NCC’s 38 member communions contribute a significant amount to the council’s budget, typically led by the United Methodist Church and Presbyterian Church (USA). Another third of NCC member communions give a token amount, while the remaining third make no financial contribution.

The NCC has not organized a governing General Assembly since 2010, when the council held annual gatherings jointly with the Church World Service. A more modestly-sized Christian Unity Gathering has convened outside of Washington, D.C. for the past few years. In 2017, the gathering was themed “Resilience, Resistance, and Persistence.”

The NCC describes itself as “a leading voice of witness to the living Christ,” claiming to represent more than 40 million individuals from Protestant, Anglican, Orthodox, Evangelical, historic African-American, and Living Peace traditions. The council has mostly focused around the Mainline Protestant churches, joined by historically African-American and Eastern Orthodox churches “to advance a shared agenda of peace, progress, and positive change.”

Statements made by the NCC in the past year oppose the U.S. decision to declare Jerusalem as capital of Israel, oppose GOP tax reform plans as biblically indefensible, and call for gun control measures. At the same time, the council has remained silent on issues of marriage and sanctity of life.

5 Responses to Member Contributions Drop at National Council of Churches

  1. senecagriggs says:

    The trajectory is downward.

  2. Skipper says:

    The United Methodist Church should ask for a refund since this Council of Progressives opposes most of what we believe in.

    • Bruce says:

      Don’t hold your breath. I see the UMC heading in the same direction. What’s in the Discipline and how the UMC acts are, unfortunately, two different things.

    • Chuck says:

      What??? The General Board of Church and Society of The United Methodist Church and the World and National Council of Churches agree perfectly on social and political positions. Always have. And its the GBCS that counts on this question.

  3. Michael Childs says:

    We need to encourage the General Conference (if there is one for the Methodist church as we know it) to pull the plug.

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