What’s Our Church’s Wider Mission?
Our Church’s Wider Mission (OCWM) is the primary way that member churches in the United Church of Christ financially support their Association, Conference, and wider settings to do God’s work in the world. Dollars contributed to OCWM provide funding for the support and nurture of Authorized Ministers, partnership with churches around the world, development of new and emerging progressive ministry centers, and so much more.
How Does OCWM Work?
OCWM is budgeted by Local Churches and remitted to the Conference on a regular basis. Each Local Church determines for itself the amount of OCWM that it will contribute. In the Northern California Nevada Conference, 90¢ of every dollar remains in our geography, while 10¢ is passed along in partnership with wider settings of the UCC.
How Much Should We Give to OCWM?
NCNC-UCC encourages Local Churches to consider the biblical teaching of tithing, or proportional giving. A tithe is 10%. Our encouragement is that Local Churches tithe their annual operating budget to ministry beyond their congregation, and to include their OCWM within that mission tithe.
In general, an annual OCWM commitment of 4-6% of the church’s operating budget is a strong goal. No matter where you start, it is important to have a plan for giving. Your Conference staff are eager to speak with your church leaders to discuss strategy.
We encourage proportional giving because it is “elastic” and so it is the most fair to all churches. No matter the level of financial resources your church has, you can choose a proportional gift that maintains abundance. This is in comparison to dues-based systems that have historically been practiced, which can feel oppressive to churches with fewer financial resources and rewarding to those with greater resources.
How Is OCWM Used?
OCWM dollars reflect more than 70% of NCNC-UCC operating funds each year. This provides the financial basis for Conference operations and ministry priorities, including supporting Search & Call, the support and oversight of Authorized Ministers, nurturing of new leaders, consultations, coaching, youth and outdoor ministries, and so much more.
For those Local Churches in active Associations, 2¢ of each OCWM dollar flows through to the church’s Association to be utilized by the Association. In areas where NCNC-UCC is acting on behalf of an inactive Association, that share is earmarked for financial support of Members in Discernment and new ministry starts within that geographic area.
OCWM that is flowed through to the National Setting supports the operation and ministry of the wider settings of the UCC, including denominational staff, justice action and advocacy, curricular development, and learning opportunities.
How is OCWM Different from Friends of the Conference?
Friends of the Conference is an individual donor program within NCNC-UCC and many other Conferences. Where OCWM reflects donations from churches, Friends of the Conference reflects donations from individuals. In both instances, funds are used toward the annual mission budget of the Conference. Only OCWM funds flow through to National Setting and Association support, and OCWM cannot be restricted or designated to a specific purpose.
Do We Get Recognized for our OCWM Contributions?
Each year at Annual Gathering, every Local Church that contributes to OCWM receives a certificate and token of appreciation from the Conference. A listing of all churches with the prior year’s OCWM giving total is published in Annual Gathering reports.
In addition to basic recognition, special recognition is extended to some churches:
- More than 10% growth in OCWM compared to prior year
- OCWM reflects 5% or more of operating budget
- Contributing to OCWM when no contribution in prior year
Because our goal is proportional giving, and we recognize that each church has different capacity to give, we do not focus on raw dollar amounts in our public recognition efforts.
What Was 5 for 5?
For many years, Local Churches were encouraged to give to the five primary financial offerings of the UCC: OCWM plus four special offerings. Those churches which met the goal were recognized as 5 for 5 and given a certificate. NCNC-UCC no longer actively engages this program or provides special recognition in this way. We encourage Local Churches to continue supporting the special offerings in addition to OCWM.
What If We Don’t Give OCWM?
The Conference appreciates the many and varied ways that donors engage in the mission and ministry of Jesus Christ. In faithful covenant with one another, we recognize the sacred relationship we have with one another in the UCC.
OCWM is the financial expression of our wider church covenant. When a Local Church decides not to budget for OCWM, it strains and impairs the covenant we share. Without your OCWM donation, we are limited in the work we can accomplish together.
While no church will be denied access to Conference staff or activities as a result of non-participation in OCWM, there may be situations where a church’s giving pattern determines fees charged for services, programs, or activities. Likewise, Conference staff are instructed to prioritize their time toward churches that give to OCWM — at any amount — in comparison to churches that do not participate in OCWM.
This is a matter of fairness. When we joyfully share of our financial resources, we demonstrate the abundant life Jesus promises in the Gospel of John and the in-breaking of the Spirit the earliest Christians experienced in Acts. Withholding our financial resources in scarcity, fear, or anxiety is unfair to those who do share toward the common financial life of the Conference community.