In the world of credit cards and bank accounts, we've all seen our share of bonus cash-back offers:
- Open an account!
- 1 percent cash back everywhere, every time
- 2 percent cash back on groceries!
- 3 percent cash back on gas!
In the world of the Florida Conference, the Ministry Protection department launched its own reward program in 2013. And, for local churches to receive the special dividends, they didn’t have to open a bank account, sign up for a new credit card or buy anything.
In fact, over the past few weeks, many churches opened mail from the conference to find an unexpected check.
“For the first time in the history of the insurance program, a special dividend in the amount of 5 percent of insurance premiums billed was returned to those local churches who paid 100 percent of all their connectional obligations,” said Mark Thomas, director of Ministry Protection. Every church that paid 100 percent of the apportionments, health and benefits expenses and insurance costs was eligible.
“We awarded dividends to 352 churches totaling $310,000," Thomas said. “This special dividend represents a quantifiable way to reward and acknowledge those faithful churches.”
The committee for Ministry Protection approved this first-time appreciation initiative in December, and the checks were sent out to local churches from early February to mid-March. The conference also gives churches a 2% discount if they pay their premiums by the end of February, according to Thomas. So, for those churches that received the 5% special dividend and received the 2% discount for early payment, their total was 7% off.
“What a wonderful surprise to open our mail and find the 2012 premium dividend,” said Arch Johnston of St. Paul UMC, Largo, in an email. “[This] can certainly help fund ministries, and this will be put to good use.”
Johnston is the executive director of church administration for the church.
“We greatly appreciate it,” he said.
Whether or not the dividend initiative will continue next year depends on the condition and performance of the Ministry Protection department in 2013, Thomas explained.
“We will do a year to year evaluation to determine if we can do it in the future.”