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Consulting services for local churches launched by finance and administration

Consulting services for local churches launched by finance and administration

Have you ever been on a church committee and just wanted to sit down and talk with an expert who could help you sort through tax issues, get help on how to explain apportionments to your congregation, or settle some claims questions?

With the launch of a new initiative at the Conference, local church clergy and laity now have the opportunity to spend a day of one-on-one time with Conference financial and administrative staff to troubleshoot problems or get their list of questions answered.

“We believe offering churches a full day of one-on-one face time with our financial and administrative staff in our Lakeland offices just makes sense,” said Conference Treasurer Mickey Wilson.  “We’re calling the initiative FACE—Friendly, Accessible, Conference Employees—and it is structured for our staff to give in-person service to our local churches."

Director of Ministry Protection Mark Thomas consults with local church members about insurance bill details.

The first FACE time will be held on February 22.  “FACE will be held the third Wednesday of every month, and we’ll schedule five-plus churches each session, depending on how many members attend from each church,” Wilson said.  “We will make sure we tailor our staff’s time and work to each specific church’s needs.” It will be open to clergy and laity, including lay and senior pastors, committee chairs, and members of church trustee, finance, and other committees.  “If we see a great response to the FACE day, we will go to holding it twice a month,” he added.

To register your church, call Cindy Truemper, the assistant to the treasurer, at 800-282-8011, extension 196.  In the registration process, churches will be able to detail the specific subjects they want to discuss.

A church’s FACE day will run from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., and lunch, beverages, etc., will be provided by the Conference.  For church members requiring overnight lodging, the Conference will provide it to ensure an on time start for the day.

Staff from the Treasurer’s office who will provide consulting services include employees from the offices of the Controller, Human Resources, and Ministry Protection.

Some of the subjects churches might want to discuss in the Ministry Protection area, according to Department Director Mark Thomas, include:

  • Changes and details to a property schedule,
  • Risk console/database related questions,
  • Claims questions,
  • Childhood Protection Policy questions,
  • Property appraisal questions,
  • Insurance bill details, and
  • Risk management and safety questions.

Kitt Elliott, in account receivables, said churches may want to discuss how payment for apportionments, ministry protection and health and benefits are processed and tips on how to improve their accuracy.  “Some people may want to talk about where their apportionments go,” she said, “or the online payment option—VANCO—and how to set it up.”

When it comes to taxes, Compliance Administrator Sondra McPhail expects churches to have a variety of questions.  “Some of the questions we receive touch on the following:

  • Employment taxes (employee vs. contractor),
  • Church audits (who should do them, how much should they cost, alternatives for having them done),
  • Accountable reimbursements expense, the rules and documentation,
  • What is the best accounting software for a church, and
  • What does tax exempt mean (federal, state and local are all different),” McPhail said.

Human Resources Director Wendy McCoy said many churches “have questions about the billing for pension and benefits, benefits enrollment and eligibility, clergy compensation, and general human resources subjects, such as employment issues.”  McCoy said churches may have questions other than these areas, and she and her staff will design their in-person consulting time to address a specific church’s need.

“Finance and administration is always looking for ways to provide excellent customer service for the local churches,” said Wilson.  “Our entire staff is excited about rolling out FACE and working with church personnel in person.  So much of our work is done over the telephone, and this is an opportunity to connect voices to persons and faces.”