Some frequently asked questions about the Consolidated Budget.
The Consolidated Budget 2021: £17.50 per member
1.What is the relationship between the consolidated budget and our church membership?
The Consolidated Budget is based on the number of members that appear in the current BUW Handbook. The membership numbers are based on the annual statistical gathering conducted by the Associations thereby ensuring that all churches pay their individual proportion towards the budget. The Finance Committee, which is made up of Association representatives is responsible for recommending the sum which is agreed at the Annual meetings. As the consolidated budget is based on each member, it means that the whole membership is involved in supporting the work and contributing towards its success.
2.What is the point of the Consolidated Budget?
The consolidated budget itself is a small contribution when one compares the benefits it provides in ensuring an effective witness and in facilitating ministry to our constituent churches. Some of the specific benefits that the consolidated budget include:
- Ministry Grants: The sum of £2 from every contribution goes directly towards the Ministry Fund which provides ministry and mission grants to our churches throughout Wales as well as contributing towards for example, children and youth workers, mission enablers and those who are embarking on pioneer ministries. The churches in question would not be able to sustain ministry without such assistance.
- Ministerial Accreditation: As an Union we accredit Ministers so as to ensure that they are trained, supported and equipped for their journey in ministry. This involves working with the Colleges to ensure that the initial training is appropriate for our context in Wales as well as the ongoing development of our Ministers. A sabbatical scheme has been introduced which enables ministers to take a period away from the church for study, personal development or refreshment and they can claim up to £500 towards costs incurred. The Ministry Co-ordinator is also developing further opportunities for ministerial training.
- Mission Initiatives: The Action Wales Team and Internship Programme for young people is a good example of how together we can invest in the lives of future leaders who will make a difference here in Wales. Mission project grants are also available which seek to provide help to churches wanting to initiate mission projects in new areas beyond the existing work of the local church along with Genesis grants. It has been good to be able to welcome mission workers from abroad through the UK Visa & Immigration Office scheme and we look forward to welcoming others when the constraints of the pandemic have been relaxed. The ‘Ethos and ‘Explore’ training facilitated by Cameron Roxburgh commenced in September 2020 over Zoom and there has been a good response from churches.
- Student Grants: A proportion of the consolidated budget also goes directly towards grants for our ministerial students which is an investment in future ministry.
- Safeguarding: The Consolidated Budget contributes towards the cost of the Inter Denominational Protection Panel which serves the churches in facilitating, as required by law, Disclosure and Barring Checks, training and specialist advice in relation to ministering amongst children and vulnerable adults. The Panel also ensures that we have effective safeguarding policies, processes and measures in place. The annual cost to the Union (and the other denominations) of providing this service is £24,500 per annum.
The Consolidated Budget ensures membership of the Union and the staff are therefore available to provide guidance and advice on a wide range of issues. The Corporation Co-ordinator receives queries from churches on almost a daily basis in relation to the buildings, cemeteries and trust deeds along with other matters which include sources of funding for grant aid. We also administer the Building Fund which can provide interest free loans for specific periods for churches wishing to undertake improvements or refurbishments. Every church receives copies of the Messenger which brings news from the churches within the BUW and is a means of encouragement and of reminding us that we belong to a family of churches. The Committee for Church and Social responsibility also acts on behalf of the Union in relation to human rights and social justice issues. In addition, the weekly Welsh Language denominational paper Seren Cymru is available free of charge on the website.
A further very important benefit of being in membership with the Union is in relation to the Charity Commission. Churches with an income of less than £100,000 are deemed to be ‘excepted charities’ and are not therefore required to register with the Charity Commission if they are in formal membership with a recognised denomination such as the Baptist Union of Wales. This will change in the next few years but and we are facilitating guidance and advice for churches so that they will conform to the new requirements. Currently if your income as a church is below £100,000 you are not required to register with the Charity Commission provided you are in membership with the Union.
4.Are there any other benefits?
We are members of the Baptist World Alliance, the European Baptist Federation and Cytûn (Churches Together in Wales). Membership of these bodies means that we support our Baptist brothers and sisters throughout the world but that we work together as Churches in Wales to address issues of concern on a national level.
We acknowledge that we live in difficult and challenging times as we endeavour to advance the Gospel in Wales. Membership of the Baptist Union of Wales ensures that no one church needs to face the future in isolation without help, guidance and encouragement. The Union is available to help every church, whether large or small, across Wales and to be a part of this journey in making Christ known.
5.Does the Consolidated Budget cover all the Union’s costs?
Unfortunately no! We have to draw on our reserves every year to ensure that the budget balances. The actual cost of membership amounts to approximately £42 per member. Therefore the Union is subsidising the true cost of membership by well over 50%. Whilst we are currently able to draw on Union reserves this cannot continue as the money will run out in five years. The Consolidated Budget therefore is vital to the future work of the Baptist Union of Wales.
6.Will there be further future increases?
We are aware that we expect our membership to fund the deficit and we are actively seeking new sources of funding so as to reduce the amount of money that we need to draw from our reserves. In addition the Finance Committee scrutinizes our expenditure for savings and to ensure that we are providing value for money.
7.Do you have any further questions?
We very much hope that this information sheet has answered some of your questions and has thrown light on the Consolidated Budget along with the challenges that we face but should you have any further questions then you are most welcome to contact the General Secretary or Finance Officer.