MINNEAPOLIS, MN (June 22, 2018) – Paul Hawkinson, treasurer and executive director of finance, told delegates to The Evangelical Covenant Church 2018 Annual Meeting that the denomination ended fiscal 2017 with a $53,000 surplus. It is the fourth straight year the ECC has posted a surplus.
Mission expenses were held at $769,555 or 5.2 percent below budget. More than $11.3 million was directed to the denomination’s five mission priorities.
Church support was $8.3 million, or 52 percent of the total base mission. Donor support was $2.1 million, or 13 percent. Those amounts were a half percent increase in church support over 2016 and a 3.5 percent increase over 2016.
Hawkinson said that the Covenant Pension Plan for ministers was strong and is 105 percent funded, with $255 million in assets vs. projected $241.5 million in actuarial liabilities.
Leaders continue to evaluate the future of the defined benefit plan in order to proactively manage increasing risks in such plans while also benefiting increasingly diverse service pathways for the ministerium.
Hawkinson added that more focus is being placed on making future retirement programs more accessible and equitable for lower income church settings.
Separate from the other retirement plan, Hawkinson said the optional GuideStone Financial 403(b)(9) retirement program continues to grow. It now serves more than 75 ECC churches and organizations that have invested roughly $10 million toward the future retirement of staff.
Bethany Benefit Service also remains strong, he said, noting that the 2018 medical rate increase was held to just 3 percent in a broader healthcare environment characterized by much higher trend rates. The three-year average rate has been roughly 2.25 percent—far below broader national plan trends.
In 2017 National Covenant Properties provided $35 million in loans to ECC congregations. NCP currently provides more than $271 million in loans to 317 Covenant projects.
But NCP does more than make loans. Its financial and real estate training program launched in 2016 for pastors, staff, and church leaders have helped them to employ best stewardship practices. So far, it has held 11 training events with approximately 250 attendees from 150 churches.
NCP also partnered with the ECC to develop the Covenant Scholars Program, with the first nine students receiving loans this year. It also has provided funding to acquire 18 properties in Detroit and Dolton, Illinois, as part of the Bezalel affordable housing project.
Covenant Trust Company distributed $7.2 million to ECC ministries from client estate plans. CTC currently manages $1 billion in investments and holds another $1 billions investments for which it provides accounting and performance reports.