For many years contributions to the M&M Fund were established within Districts with each District in the Synod using a different system; most such systems relied on membership as a major factor. With the cessation of Districts the Synod was faced with the challenge of moving to a unified system. It also became evident that many churches were profoundly unhappy about the use of membership figures in calculating contributions. A system in which the large support the small does not take account of the ability of churches to give. The Ministry and Mission Resources Committee (which now no longer exists) was directed to find a system whereby the strong support the weak, which reflects ability to give (including demographic influences), takes account of year-on-year changes in circumstances, is easy to calculate and manage, is flexible and involves no sudden large year changes. No mean feat! The task was made even more challenging when it became obvious that there are many in the URC who hold strong and diametrically opposed views.
Through a process of extensive research, discussion and debate the MMRC developed the recommendation of a FAIRSHARE SYSTEM. This system was trialled in 2008 and the process, data collected and resultant figures were scrutinised by the Area Partnership M&M Advocates so that the system could be fine-tuned and any potential problems identified and dealt with. In October 2008 Synod Council unanimously agreed the continued development of the FairShare System with it being used for the first time in 2009 to determine contributions in 2010. Continued development means that the system is not fixed in stone but can be adapted and modified (with Synod's approval) to be as effective as possible and meet changing needs and situations.
What it is
Under the FairShare System each church is asked to submit selected financial details to their Area Partnership M&M Advocate on a ‘FairShare Return’. The information on the form is used by the Synod M&M Advocate to calculate a church’s contribution to the M&M Fund. 70% of a church’s contribution is based on financial resources (The Pounds Part) and 30% on average adult attendance at Sunday worship (The People Part). The sum of the Pounds Part and the People Part is the ‘FairShare’ figure but the contribution requested is capped so as to never be greater than 5% + RPI above current contribution. No church can work out its own M&M contribution, as the figures from all of the churches are needed. In essence every church is ‘measured’ using the same assessment of financial resources (broadly defined as unrestricted income less expenditure needed to generate that income) and attendance. These are then used as factors so that every church is treated according to the same criteria.
How it works
The Area Partnership M&M Advocate, who may make further adjustments in the light of local knowledge, will inform churches of both the ‘FairShare’ figure (for information only) and the adjusted figure that could be lower or higher than the FairShare. In the light of these two figures churches are asked to reflect on them and on their current situation and to let the Area Partnership M&M Advocate know if they are able to meet the requested adjusted amount. It may be that some churches feel in a position to offer more and others who feel that they will struggle to meet their assessment. If the latter is the case then discussion needs to take place with the Area Partnership M&M Advocate and with the other churches in the Area so that the churches can work to support each other.
Integral to the whole process of this system is that it aims to be a consultative procedure. The raw numbers from churches may be objective but they do not take into account local knowledge and situations. That is why discussion and sharing together is so important.
Further details about the FairShare system and how it affects Local Ecumenical Partnerships and United Churches are the Ministry and Mission Fund are available in the download documents accessed via the link on the side menu. Your Area Partnership M&M Advocate will be happy to help answer any other queries you may have. Contact details are also availabkle via the side menu.
In the Eastern Synod the gifts from the churches is also used to fund the work, services and support of the Synod Office.