Assembly decides against changing URC budget arrangements

From URC News 11th July 2016


News Release
Resolution 38, that the proposed budget of the United Reformed Church for the following year should be brought to General Assembly to be debated, was presented by the Revd Dr Alan Spence and the Revd Nicola Furley-Smith on behalf of Southern Synod.It was brought with a change in wording from the text in the Book of Reports: ‘approval’ was changed to ‘adoption’.Dr Spence commended the URC’s budget as a model of clarity, but argued that it ought to be made more available to scrutiny, as it is ‘a theological document of the Church’.Much of the Gospel is about how we spend our money, he said, and the budget reveals what we believe the Spirit is saying to the churches. He urged Assembly not to fear transparency.Ms Furley-Smith explained that Southern Synod was bringing the resolution because local churches feel disconnected from central denominational business and want more involvement.Responding to the resolution on behalf of the finance committee, Mr John Ellis assured Assembly that he shared the desire that Assembly should determine the priorities of the Church. But, he said, finance committee works with 150 different members of the URC in creating the budget, which is far from autocratic, and the budget is fully available to the public. He said there are many reasons why the resolution would not increase accountability, citing, as one, the fact that the timing of Assembly makes it impractical to build  a reliable budget between the end of the financial year and the deadlines for Assembly. A decade ago the Assembly had itself decided to abandon the practice of receiving a draft budget in July and delegated responsibility for agreeing the budget to the last Mission Council meeting of each calendar year.

A motion was put that Assembly vote immediately without debating further the resolution. This motion was carried, whereupon Assembly rejected the resolution by a majority vote.

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