I just came from what may have been the best board meeting of my life.
Three months ago, I shared with you all the story of Moses and the parting of the Red Sea, in which God worked a miracle but only after Moses lifted his walking stick. The Bible is full of stories like this. Jesus asked the blind man to wash in the river, asked the servants to fill the wine jugs with water, asked the little boy to give over his bread and fish—again and again, we see the theme: God works miracles, if we do our part.
The long range financial planning working group has been doing our part. We met weekly from early March through mid-June. We prayed, and we talked, and we researched, and we prayed again. We experienced an affirmation: Friends United Meeting is doing God’s work! What, then, shall we do to grow and thrive in this faithfulness?
We asked ourselves, “What does Godly partnership look like?” What does it mean to be in global partnership with missions and ministries, to energize and equip Friends through the power of the Holy Spirit, as our mission statement says?
It means to commit to the partnership, to communicate and pray together and visit one another, for it is not good for the man to be alone (Genesis 2:18).
And it means to trust in the capacity of our partners, to know that all people are abundantly blessed, for God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people (Acts 2:17).
This is why we’re taking the step toward helping all of our missions and ministries become financially self-sustaining. We will remain in partnership; you will always be able to donate, and we will always be working together. But we understand that ministries will thrive when they are no longer dependent, when they are covering their own operating costs, through local businesses or endowments or other funding streams—and also that long-term dependence is not a Godly partnership. We will come alongside each ministry and help it to move toward the goal of being self-sustaining, not rushing, not setting deadlines, but as genuine partners, as love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres (1 Corinthians 13:7).
We also know that as more missions and ministries become self-sustaining, we’ll have the capacity to step into work that is new, as God will always do new things; they will spring up! (Isaiah 43)
We’re already taking specific steps toward supporting two of our ministries in making this transition. One of them is likely to do it this year; the other may do it three or four years down the line. There are others that are near the horizon, and we’re entering conversations to better understand what help is needed.
We’ve also approved moving to multiyear budgeting, always looking three years ahead. This, too, is making space for growth: can we see which seeds to plant this year that may flower in 2021 or 2022?
We’re making some shifts in our administrative fees so that your donations can more fully support the work of ministries: not just the activities on the ground but the global partnership that makes it all possible, such as help with communications, staff training, visits with local mission boards, and reliable financial processing.
Not all of this is easy. It’s also not complete. Long range financial planning will continue to meet at least through March of 2020, and we’ll continue to bring recommendations to the board. And we’ll continue to keep you updated. But for now, this feels like hope; FUM can thrive!
In this moment, there are two areas in which we particularly need your help. One is in support of Nikki Holland, our new Director of Belize Friends Mission, who is working to raise her support in preparation to depart for Belize within the next two months. Her presence is the next step in building a healthy ministry in Belize, so this is definitely our most immediate need. If you haven’t yet made a monthly pledge, please do.
The other is in our general fund, which could use a little boost. It’s sometimes difficult to raise the funds that cover our communications department, our staff travel, our infrastructure, and our administrative support both in Kisumu, Kenya (the African Ministries Office), and in Richmond, Indiana (our North American office at Quaker Hill). And yet, it’s our faithful, dedicated staff in those offices that make our mission work possible.
Thank you, Friends, for being part of the FUM global partnership. I can’t wait to see what God does with us next.
- Emily Provance, New York Yearly Meeting, clerk of the Long Range Financial Planning Working Group
Other members of the working group: Ron Bryan (Iowa Yearly Meeting, FUM presiding clerk); Cathy Harris (New Association of Friends, FUM general board finance committee); Kelly Kellum (FUM general secretary); Richard Sitati (Nairobi Yearly Meeting, FUM assistant presiding clerk); and Lloyd Stangeland (Iowa Yearly Meeting, FUM trustees)