Mennonite World Conference (MWC) proposed major changes to its “fair share” funding system for 2023-2025 at the MWC General Council meeting in Semarang, Indonesia, July 1-4, 2022. These changes will have a direct impact on Mennonite Church USA (MC USA) and its constituents who donate to MWC.
The proposed changes include:
- Increasing the per person fundraising assessment by an average of 18% for member denominations.
- Introducing a new sliding scale formula for large denominations.
- Implementing a new policy that no longer counts direct individual donations to MWC toward a denomination’s assessed amount.
Delegates did not have a chance to vote on the proposed changes, as a COVID-19 outbreak cut the meeting short. The General Council authorized the MWC Executive Committee to decide on the proposed changes.
MWC’s 30-year-old fair share fundraising assessment is calculated based on the headcount of each denomination and the relative wealth of the denomination’s geographic grouping, using gross domestic product (GDP) and purchasing power parity (PPP). Geographic grouping is used to make space for more diversity of income within countries. MC USA is in a group with four other U.S. denominations. This group is assessed at the highest rate.
Per Person Assessment Increase
MWC’s first proposed change involves adjusting the ranges of GDP and PPP for each country grouping for better balance and increasing the per member rate. For MC USA, this will mean a 17% increase in the per member assessment rate during a challenging economic time.
“Many of our agencies, conferences and congregations are facing reduced budgets and a smaller donor base,” said MC USA Executive Director Glen Guyton, “while MWC is seeking to increase its budget by over 56% in three years, moving from $989,180 in 2022 to $1,548,171 in 2025.”
Sliding scale formula for large denominations
The second proposed change, the introduction of a sliding scale formula for denominations with more than 10,000 members, is aimed at helping large denominations reach their seemingly unattainable assessment goals.
“The highest frustration with the current fair share system comes from the largest member [denominations],” wrote MWC Chief Operations Officer Jeanette Bissoon and Regional Representatives Coordinator Arli Klassen in their report to delegates. “None of the 23 member [denominations] with more than 10,000 baptized members came close to [reaching] their full fair share … This is psychologically very discouraging for those member churches because the assessments are unrealistic.”
MC USA, which has 59,000 members, has never met its fair share assessment. Between 2020-2022, the fair share assessment for MC USA was about $245,000 annually. According to Guyton, MC USA provided 34% of its assessed funds, with the Executive Board contributing $25,000 from its operating budget and individual donors and congregations adding another $58,000, for a total of $83,000.
The sliding scale formula will cut MC USA’s assessment by more than half, but the assessment will still be over $100,000, well above historic giving levels.
Individual donations no longer credited to the denomination
Under the proposed changes, MC USA will no longer receive credit for donations made directly to MWC from individuals or congregations.
“Counting individual contributions towards fair share did not work well, even though including individual giving reflects contributions from the whole church,” wrote Bissoon and Klassen in their report. “It is unknown to which member church individuals belong, so it is very difficult to attribute individual donations to a member church.”
Individual and congregational donations have made up almost 70% of MC USA’s total contributions to MWC. “Because of this proposed change in policy, we are now requesting that members of MC USA send their MWC donations to MC USA,” said Guyton.
Donations to MWC can be made through MC USA’s online giving portal at mennoniteusa.org/give or by sending a check to Mennonite Church USA, 718 N. Main Street, Newton, Kansas 67114. Please make checks payable to MC USA, noting MWC in the memo line. MC USA will forward those funds to MWC to ensure that the denomination is properly credited for its MWC fair share.
Mennonite Church USA is the largest Mennonite denomination in the United States with 16 conferences, approximately 550 congregations and 59,000 members. An Anabaptist Christian denomination, MC USA is part of Mennonite World Conference, a global faith family that includes churches in 59 countries. It has offices in Elkhart, Indiana, and Newton, Kansas. mennoniteUSA.org
By MC USA staff