Yellowstone Annual Conference Works to Find Solution to Conference Financial Concerns

Aug. 7, 2017

Dear siblings of the Yellowstone Conference,

First, I want to thank you for your continued commitment to work in ministry to the people of our communities. I am still feeling the love and renewed sense of spirit from our Annual Conference in June, and especially the tremendous response to the Harvest Time Legacy Fund campaign. As your Bishop, I want you to know that we will always work to help you make disciples in the communities in which you live.

Recently, the staff of the Yellowstone Annual Conference and I took the opportunity to evaluate our financial status. A recent article painted a bleak picture of our financial future. At the request of the conference, Moses Kumar, chief executive of GCFA and several GCFA staff members met with the Bishop and other conference leaders to do a Financial, Information Technology (IT) and Human Resources evaluation.

At the conclusion of our time together, we determined that we can improve greatly in our communication within the conference and to the people of the Yellowstone Annual Conference. Here are a few things we learned:  

  • The Yellowstone Conference Council on Finance and Administration had been monitoring the conference’s financial situation. As we continue to review our financials on a monthly and annual basis, we will commit to better communication of where we stand to our staff and the people of the conference.
  • We will review our administrative processes which may include a Human Resources audit and develop a strategy to reduce travel and other administrative costs.

The statistical analysis of our conference indicates our churches carry a lot less debt compared to other churches in the general UMC. It also shows us that even as membership and attendance decrease, our giving units have remained stable over the years. This is good news. This shows us that there is a lot happening in our congregations to celebrate. 

Our projections are showing that our churches are responding to our fiscal situation and more work is needed to keep our conference going. We are thankful for the people of the Yellowstone Annual Conference for committing to improve our situation. During a meeting with Jurisdictional representatives that same week, we learned we are not alone in our mission and we are all committed to Yellowstone’s health. Leadership from every conference in the Western Jurisdiction offered resources to help.

The Harvest Time Legacy Fund will continue to re-energize our mission share giving. We will have more updates about the Harvest Time campaign in the weeks to come. During our annual clergy orders retreat in October, we will have a staff person from Discipleship Ministries assist us in cultivating generous givers through stewardship training. A conference-wide program for laity and clergy will follow.

We are grateful for the connectional nature of our denomination that creates an atmosphere of support for any one of our parts. The gospels say it so well as given to us in Hebrews 10:24-25: “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another — and all the more as you see the day approaching.”

May we keep loving and living boldly,

Signature of Bishop Karen Oliveto

Bishop Karen Oliveto

The Yellowstone Annual Conference
PO Box 20335
Billings, MT 59104
(406) 256-1385