CHURCH CONFERENCES GENERAL

Why do we have annual church conferences?

“The Charge Conference shall be the connecting link between the local church and the general church (¶ 247)… The primary responsibilities of the Charge Conference in the annual meeting shall be to review and evaluate the total mission and ministry of the church, receive reports, and adopt objectives and goals recommended by the church council that are in keeping with the objectives of the United Methodist Church (¶ 247.3).”

When is my church conference? When are my forms due?

All church conference reports are due on September 19, 2022 from all churches. To see your district’s conference schedule and forms deadline, please click here.

What reports is a church required to complete? Where do I submit them? Who is responsible for completing each report?

A checklist of all required reports, where to submit each one, and the recommended committee or person responsible for each report can be found here.

What is the purpose of the reports we are asked to submit?

To better understand the purpose of church conferences and of each report, please click here.

Why do we have to submit our church conference forms before our conference?

We ask for forms to be submitted ahead of time so the Regional Administrator and the District Superintendent can review the forms for any glaring mistakes. Additionally, each Regional Administrator is responsible for preparing the church conference forms of up to 180 churches in just under one month. Preparing the reports for all of these churches takes time. That is why we ask you to submit your reports in full and on time. Also, the presiding elder of your conference must review your reports in preparation for the conference.

What is the pastor’s responsibility when it comes to the church conference forms?

The pastor is the administrative officer of the local church (¶ 340) and is the sole person ultimately responsible for ensuring the completion of all church conference forms. However, it is best if the appropriate committee or person complete each of their respective reports as this ensures accuracy in reporting.

What does a church need to print for its church conference?

For a list of documents that should be printed, please click here.

What should we bring to our church conference?

If your church conference is in person, the church needs to bring enough printed copies of their church conference reports for all their members attending and a copy for their presiding elder. If your conference is held on Zoom, please email all the reports ahead of time to those who will attend so they can review the reports and have them available at the conference.

Who do I contact if I am having trouble or have a general church conference question?

Please email your Regional Administrator. They will be happy to help you.

Do we need to submit a church conference booklet to our District Superintendent?

No, please do not submit a booklet to your DS. All the forms are accessible for the superintendents through the regional office. A paper copy is redundant. Please save the trees!

CHURCH CONFERENCE REPORTS

Does our church have to submit a Nominations Report as well as the complete the Directory of Officials report in Arena?

The Directory of Officials and the Nominations Report have been combined into one report. When you look at the new format of the Directory of Officials report you will see that it now prints like a Nominations Report. Therefore, we no longer require a separate Nominations Report.

Where does a church complete the Congregational Appraisal? Who should complete it?

The appraisal is completed in Arena. This report should be completed by the Church Council Chair.

Should every pastor complete the Report of the Pastor?

This report is only completed by the Senior Pastor of each church.

Why should we complete the advisory section in its entirety on both the Pastor Profile and Church Profile?

These profiles are completed or updated annually by each pastor and SPRC and serve as the primary documents of consultation between the pastor, church, and the Cabinet for appointment purposes.

The Advisory Section of these profiles inform the Cabinet of the pastor and church’s thoughts around the continuation or change of the current appointment. It is vital that the Advisory Section be completed in its entirety each year.

Why is it important to provide us with a 100-word description of your church on the Church Profile?

The 100-word description is used for online publications such as posting appointments and other communications where there is a need for a synopsis of the church’s ministries and the community it serves.

This description should be written in full sentences and should include the church’s setting and location, current ministries both inside and outside of the church, number of services and style of each worship, ethnic makeup of the congregation, and something the church is known for in the community.

Does my church still have to complete the Parsonage Evaluation even if we do not have a parsonage?

Yes, but barely! Please log into the Parsonage Evaluation and click “no” at the top of the form to show you do not have a parsonage. Then, scroll to the bottom and hit Save/Submit. That’s all!

What should we do if our church has multiple parsonages?

This report must be completed annually for ALL parsonages following a walk-through by a member of the Trustees, an SPRC member, and the pastoral family. Please email your Regional Administrator to receive access to additional Parsonage Evaluation forms.

What if our pastor does not live in our parsonage? Do we still need to complete a Parsonage Evaluation?

A parsonage that is rented, used by someone other than the pastor, or used for another purpose altogether (e.g. thrift shop, food pantry, office space, etc.) should still have an annual walk-through and this evaluation report completed.

Do you have a printable parsonage walk-through worksheet available that can be used while inspecting the parsonage?

Yes, this worksheet can be found here.

What exactly should be included in the Treasurer’s Report? What length of time should it cover?

The Treasurer’s Report should include all church expenses and revenue (surplus and deficit) and is the same report that is generated for your church leadership. This report should cover the previous completed year as well as the current calendar fiscal year up to and including the month prior to submitting this report. For example, if your church conference forms are due in September 2022, the Treasurer’s Report should fully cover year 2021 as well as January to August of the current year 2022.

I am a Lay Servant. What forms do I need to complete?

If you are a lay servant/speaker, you will need to complete the Certified Lay Servant/Lay Speaker Report which can be accessed through Arena. All Certified Lay Ministers are required to complete the Certified Lay Minister Report which can also be accessed through Arena.

If you are unsure of your login information, please email your Regional Administrator here.

What is a Pastor’s Discretionary Account? Is there a max amount a pastor can have?

A Pastor’s Discretionary Account is a designated fund made available to the Senior Pastor to distribute funds for emergency financial aid at his/her discretion. The congregation should establish a policy statement as a guideline on how this account is to be funded and disbursed. This account is authorized by the congregation’s Church Council.

The recommended maximum per disbursement for this account is $175, and the recommended account amount to be established is $4,000. However, these amounts are at the discretion of the local church. To see a sample policy statement, please click here.

What is a perpetual care fund?

This is a fund meant to pay for the upkeep of a church cemetery in perpetuity. This fund typically offsets annual maintenance costs which helps to ensure the long-term care of a cemetery. It is recommended that each church with a cemetery establish a perpetual care fund that maintains a minimum balance of $50,000.

What if my church does not have a Safe Sanctuary Policy?

Safe Sanctuary policies are mandated by the Greater New Jersey Annual Conference. Please click here for more information on how to become a compliant church.

How do I access Mission Insite?

To access Mission Insite, please click here.

Church Numbers

What is my church number? | Click here to view numbers on the website.

ARENA

What is Arena?

Arena is the online church reporting system where GNJ churches are able to easily complete their church conference forms. Arena stores the forms you completed last year and allows you to annually update the information in the forms instead of having to complete each form from the beginning.

Who Has Access?

Different church leadership roles grant access to different reports depending on the report you are responsible for completing (e.g., only SPRC chairs can access the Church Profile). Accessing Arena requires a username and password which is unique to each person.

Log into Arena here: http://member.gnjumc.org/.

Who in my church will receive a login for Arena?

The following leaders will receive an email with their personal login information: all appointed pastors, church council chair, trustees president, lay leader, SPRC chair, and church admin/secretary.

  • The church leaderswill receive a personal login for the Arena website. It will be emailed directly to the church council chair, trustees president, lay leader, and church admin/secretary.  These logins will give you access to complete the following reports: Report of the Trustees, Parsonage Evaluation, and Congregational Appraisal.
  • The SPRC chair will receiving a personal login for the Arena website.  This will be emailed directly to the SPRC chair.  This login will give access to the Church Profile report.
  • All appointed pastors will use their personal login as they have in previous years.  The pastor’s login will grant access to view and edit all reports with the exception of the Church Profile and Lay Servant/CLM reports.
  • Lay Servants, and Certified Lay Ministers are to continue using their personal login as they have in previous years.  These logins will grant access to only the Certified Lay Servant/Speaker and Certified Lay Minister reports.
  • The church login will be used to access the Directory of Officials report ONLY.  The format of the login is GNJ followed by your four digit church number, like this: GNJ1100.  This is used as both the login ID and the password.  This is the only way to access the Directory of Officials Report.

Which internet browser works best with Arena?

Arena works best with Chrome and also with Safari and Internet Explorer. Please do not use Firefox as it is often not compatible with Arena.

How do I submit the forms on Arena?

At the bottom of each report, you will see a checkbox marked “Check here to verify that this form has been updated for 2022.” When the form has been reviewed, updated, and you are ready to submit it, check this box and click the “Save/Submit” button. This will let us know that you have completed the form for this year.

How do I print the forms from Arena?

Each report is printable. A print button can be found on the page that lists all of the forms to which you have access.  To the far right of each form listed you will see a button with a little printer icon.  Click on that button and a print screen will pop up.  You can also use this function to save a form as a PDF.  Click on the print button and when the print screen comes up select “Print to PDF” or “Save as PDF” in the printer options dropdown box.

How do I upload documents to the Report of the Trustees?

The Report of the Trustees asks you to upload copies of the documents listed below if you have not recently provided these to the regional office. Under each question requesting a document you will see the word “Change” written in blue. Click “Change” and a dialogue box will appear. Follow the instructions to drag and drop or to browse for the file.

  • Church incorporation documents
  • GNJAC Certified Safe Sanctuary Policy
  • List of income producing and permanent funds (if not listed on the Fund Balance Report)

Does the church have access to the reports of its Certified Lay Servants/Speakers and Certified Lay Ministers?

No. Due to our new login system churches no longer have direct access to Certified Lay Servant/Speaker reports or Certified Lay Minister reports. Lay servants and CLMs should save a copy of their report and email it to whomever is gathering the reports for your church.

CLERGY COMPENSATION REPORT & BENEFITS

How does the Clergy Compensation Report work?

This report exists in Excel in order to make completing this form easier for the local churches. Upon entering figures in the appropriate boxes, other salary and benefit information will automatically calculate depending on the information you entered. In order for these amounts to calculate correctly, please only complete this report in Excel. Handwritten forms cannot be accepted.

Do not delete any of the numbers that automatically calculate in this report. Doing this may delete the formulas, and your final product may be incorrect. If you know you made a mistake on a particular figure, simply delete that figure where you entered it and reenter the correct amount; the rest of the form will fix itself. If you have made a mistake and are not sure if the overall numbers are correct, delete the form you have, download a blank one from the website, and start over. Every compensation report that is submitted is reviewed for correctness. We will let you know if we spot an error. If you are still unsure on how to complete this report, please contact your Regional Administrator.

Please click here to view the new Clergy Compensation Report Instructions.

Where can I download the Clergy Compensation Report?

To download this report, please click here.

What is different about this year’s Clergy Compensation Report?

A number of improvements are made each year to the Clergy Compensation Report. Additionally, benefits calculations, health insurance premiums, and HSA/FSA maximums change year to year. It is imperative that you download the new year’s form each year to ensure your report is correct.

Why should I read the Clergy Compensation Report Instructions?

The instructions explain the report line by line. They give important information for understanding the meaning and implication of each line, as well as provide tax reporting information. It is highly recommended to read these instructions in full before completing the report. They can be found here.

Who and how should we complete and submit the Clergy Compensation Report?

This report is completed by the SPRC and then brought to the Church Council for approval and signature prior to submission to the regional office. This report should then be submitted via email to your Regional Administrator by the same deadline date as all your other church conference forms. The recommendation becomes final after action by the Charge Conference and the signature of the District Superintendent.

Why should we sign the Clergy Compensation Report ahead of time?

It is recommended to get signatures before sending this report to the regional office. Signatures indicate that the salary package has been approved by the appropriate body. Final approval is contingent upon a vote by the Charge Conference and the signature of the District Superintendent. Getting signatures ahead of time will prevent you being contacted for signatures after your church conference if anyone that needs to sign the report was not present.

What is the difference between a Housing Allowance and a Housing Exclusion (Line 5 and Line 11 on the Clergy Compensation Report)?

There is an important difference between these two lines. Please refer to the Clergy Compensation Report Instructions for a detailed explanation.

Where is the Housing Exclusion Resolution Form? I cannot find it.

In order to make completing the Housing Exclusion Resolution easier which is required from all clergy (IRS requirement), this form has been added as a third page into the Clergy Compensation Report. Page 3 of this report will automatically be completed for you upon entering amounts on pages 1 and 2. Only the pastor’s home address will need to be manually entered on page 3. This will save time by not having to download and complete an additional form.

Why does a pastor need to complete a Housing Exclusion Resolution Form even if he/she is not taking one?

This form is needed to meet IRS requirements that allows a clergy person to exclude a portion of his/her salary spent on maintaining or furnishing a home (either in a parsonage or in his/her own home) from taxable income. It may not be done retroactively, and only that amount that is actually spent and can be accounted for can be claimed. Any amount set aside and not spent must be added into the taxable amount by the clergy person.

How do we calculate our pastor’s minimum salary?

The Minimum Equitable Salary Guide is used to determine a pastor’s required minimum salary according to his/her status and years of full time service. As approved by the Annual Conference, only full time years of service are used to calculate the minimum salary (part time equivalents are not eligible). Pastors receiving their first full time appointment will move to level one on January 1st after having been appointed for a complete appointment year. Any change in clergy minimum salaries related to a change of clergy status through ordination, commissioning, or licensing in 2022 will become effective as of January 1, 2023. Pastors receiving their first full time appointment are at level 0. Please check with your pastor to determine their number of full time years under appointment. Please click here to download the minimum salary guide.

What parts of the Clergy Compensation Report are up to the pastor’s discretion?

Each pastor has certain decisions to make regarding the salary and benefits he/she receives. On the Clergy Compensation Report, the following are left up to the pastor’s discretion:

  • Will he/she contribute into UMPIP? If so, will it be designated on Line 8 (tax-sheltered) or Line 14 (taxable in the current year)?
  • Will he/she designate a Flexible Spending Account Contribution (Line 10)?
  • Will he/she designate a Health Savings Account Contribution (Line 11)?
  • Will he/she designate a Housing Exclusion amount (Line 12)?

What do we do differently on this report if our pastor is part of a clergy couple?

If serving full time as part of a clergy couple, please enter the health insurance premium agreed upon by each church on Line 21 which is most commonly an even split of the premium amount.

What do Lines 23-26 represent on the Clergy Compensation Report?

These lines represent various benefits that clergy are potentially eligible to receive depending on their conference relationship and appointment status.

  • Line 23: Clergy Retirement Security Program (CRSP) – CRSP is a retirement program providing lifetime income for those who serve as clergy in The United Methodist Church.
  • Line 24: Comprehensive Protection Plan (CPP) – CPP provides death benefits, long-term disability income replacement, and certain other survivor benefits for eligible clergy of The United Methodist Church and their families.
  • Line 25: UM Personal Investment Plan (UMPIP) – This line represents the church’s contribution to UMPIP which is a retirement plan administered by Wespath Benefits and Investments. This benefit is only available to pastors serving ¼ time that are no longer eligible to receive CRSP.
  • Line 26: UMLife Options – This is long-term disability and life insurance coverage offered to eligible United Methodist clergy and lay employees.

What is UMPIP (Line 8 or Line 14 on the Clergy Compensation Report)?

United Methodist Personal Investment Plan (UMPIP) is a retirement plan administered by Wespath Benefits and Investments. A pastor may choose to have this amount withheld from his/her salary and sent to Wespath for investment in their Personal Investment Plan on either a tax-deferred or an after-tax basis. Contribution to UMPIP is strongly recommended and is the option of the pastor. Per 2012 General Conference changes, pastors contributing at least 1% of Plan Compensation into UMPIP will gain an additional 1% match into CRSP.

Pastors must complete a Contribution Election Form if this is a new appointment or a new election. This form is to be filed at the local church. This form and more information on UMPIP can be found here.

How do I enroll in UMPIP?

Newly appointed pastors or currently appointed pastors that are transferring to another church or making a new election that wish to enroll or remain enrolled in UMPIP, must complete a new Contribution Election Form. Entering a UMPIP amount on the Clergy Compensation Report does not automatically enroll you in the plan.

Churches are the plan sponsor for the purposes of personal contributions for clergy and are responsible to complete “Part 7” of the Contribution Election Form prior to submitting to Wespath Benefits and Investments. The local church will receive a bill from Wespath each month for the pastor’s contributions. Because this is an agreement between the local church and the pastor, local churches must keep a copy of the Contribution Election Form on file. This form can be found here.

How do I determine which of the benefits listed above our pastor is eligible to receive?

A guide is available to all local churches that explains which benefits a pastor is eligible to receive depending on his/her conference relationship and appointment status. To download this guide, please click here.

I AM A PRESIDING ELDER

I am a presiding elder. What should I expect?

Thank you very much for presiding! Now here’s what to expect: you will receive an email from your Regional Administrator with all of a church’s completed paperwork no less than three days prior to a church conference. It is expected that you will read and review these documents. There is no need for you to print any of these reports. If the conference is in person, the church is instructed to print a copy for their presiding elder.

What is the process on the day of a church conference if it is in person?

When you arrive, please first visit the registration table. The Regional Administrator or District Superintendent will check you in and hand you all of the envelopes for the church conferences over which you are presiding. Each envelope will have two items: an agenda and a sign-in sheet. Please place both of these items back in the envelope after the conference, making sure to have passed around the sign-in sheet and to have acquired all of the necessary signatures on the Clergy Compensation Report that the church provided. If someone is not present to sign, please write that on the front of the envelope. Once the conference is over, please return the envelope with all its contents to the Regional Administrator or the District Superintendent.

Do I need to print the reports for the conference over which I am presiding?

No, you do not.

Is there an agenda to follow when I preside?

Absolutely! The agenda can be found here.

What do I do if I run into a problem during the conference?

If this happens, please text or call the District Superintendent.

Can a church add additional resolutions to the conference?

Yes, but only with the prior approval of the District Superintendent.

AFTER MY CHURCH CONFERENCE

What do we need to do after we have had our church conference?

A copy of the minutes from your church conference should be sent to your Regional Administrator within 72 hours of your conference (¶ 247.4). Doing this will also prevent you from having to submit these minutes during the next conference season.

Please send the final, approved, and signed Clergy Compensation Report to your Regional Administrator by email as soon as possible following the conference.  Typed electronic signatures are perfectly acceptable.  Your Regional Administrator will obtain the District Superintendent’s signature on the final document.

Anything else of which we should be aware?

Yes! Please respond quickly if you are contacted by either your Regional Administrator or the Benefits Department. This could be for multiple reasons: more signatures are needed on the Clergy Compensation Report, you need to complete a new Contribution Election Form for UMPIP, or the benefits department needs to clarify something regarding a pastor’s salary and benefits. Additionally, please email your final 2023 church budget to your Regional Administrator by December 31 if you have not already provided a final copy of it.