by Scott Selman
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven…
Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NRSV)
December is a special month. It is a time of real joy as we celebrate the birth of our savior, Jesus Christ. It is a time of kindness and charity toward others. It is a time of goodwill as we share in fellowship with our family and friends. It is also an important time for church administration – a time for closure as the year comes to an end, and a time for anticipation as a new year approaches.
The following suggestions may be helpful as the calendar year comes to a close and preparations are made for a new year:
- Remit final amounts for your Conference budget askings (apportionments) by the announced date. Special arrangements for sending remittances after this date may be made by contacting the Conference Treasurer’s office.
- Complete your annual Local Church Report as accurately as possible. The report should be returned to your district superintendent on or before January 15. Remember, amounts reported on lines 9, 69, 70, 71, and 72 affect your Conference budget askings.
- Prepare individual year-end statements of giving and distribute to all church members in January.
- Notify all staff persons concerning compensation adjustments for the new year. Ideally, changes in compensation should be communicated in writing and mailed to each employee’s home address.
- Consult with your district superintendent if your pastor receives an equitable compensation supplement. The Commission on Equitable Compensation must approve all supplements for the new year, even if the amount remains the same as the prior supplement.
- Verify that all charge conference forms have been properly completed and provided to the district superintendent.
- Request that any unpaid invoices or expense reimbursement requests applicable to the year ending be submitted for payment as soon as possible.
- Prepare and distribute Forms W-2 to all church employees (including the pastor) no later than January 31.
- Prepare the fourth quarter Form 941, if applicable, and mail by January 31.
- Prepare Form W-3 and mail with Copy A of all Forms W-2 to Social Security Administration by February 28.
- Prepare and distribute any Forms 1099 to all independent contractors that received compensation in excess of $600 for services rendered to the local church. Copy B of Form 1099 should be provided to individuals by January 31 and Copy A should be filed with Form 1096 by February 28.
- Verify arrangements for the audit of the local church financial records. A local church audit is required by ¶259.4.c) in The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church. Audits do not have to be conducted by a Certified Public Accountant, but the auditor(s) should have knowledge of accounting principles and internal controls. The Local Church Audit Guide developed by the Internal Audit Department and the Committee on Audit and Review of the General Council on Finance and Administration is an excellent source of information about local church audits and includes a checklist that is helpful for local churches that prefer to have an audit without engaging an independent professional auditing firm.
- Review local church ministry and operational goals for the year ending and determine any goals that should be reaffirmed for the new year.
- Verify that the monthly premiums for clergy health insurance are included in the local church budget for the new year.
- Provide budget information to the appropriate persons responsible for monitoring compliance with the program expense and operating expense budgets.
- Continue to train and equip all church leaders for service in the new year.
- Schedule all regular meetings (church council, finance committee, etc.) for the new year as soon as possible. Verify that the church calendar is as up-to-date.
Note: See Table of Contents to find additional information on many of the topics included in this checklist.
Discover, Develop and Deploy Spiritual Leaders to Make Disciples of Jesus Christ for the Transformation of the World.