New York, NY, December 14, 2006—The Advance for Christ and His Church, the designated mission-giving program of The United Methodist Church, is being restructured to better equip it to reach donors today and into the future.
“We are acting to assure the vitality of the Advance in a day when the patterns and technology of giving are changing,” said Cashar Evans, Jr., a Kitty Hawk, North Carolina layman who chairs the Advance Committee of the General Board of Global Ministries. Mr. Evans, Bishop Larry M. Goodpaster of Alabama-West Florida, the Advance vice-chair, and the Rev. R. Randy Day, chief executive of the Global Ministries, together announced the restructuring.
One major change is the reconfiguration of professional positions within the organization. Most current positions, including jurisdictional representatives, are being phased out in favor of a new network of staff coordinators and specialists. Five jurisdictional offices will be closed by March 8, 2007. Employees may apply for the new positions.
“We are not downsizing and no one has done anything wrong,” Mr. Evans stressed. “The new staff organization will still have strong relationships to annual conferences, districts, and congregations, although the format will change.”
The almost 60-year-old Advance is a channel for the support of missionaries, mission projects, and emergency relief and rehabilitation. It is “second mile” mission giving, that is, contributions above the funds from the basic World Service fund of the Church. One hundred percent of each gift goes to the cause designated.
The General Board of Global Ministries, the international mission agency of the denomination, pays the Advance’s administrative costs.
Bishop Goodpaster noted that the Advance Committee has been working on the restructure plan for many months. “It was very obvious that we needed to move toward a system of mission giving that respects our heritage and also appeals to the younger people coming into the United Methodist family. We need to reach toward more immediacy in both giving and the utilization of gifts.”
The Advance has a new director as of December 1, 2006. She is Shawn Bakker, a young woman with proven ability in fund-raising and non-profit marketing.
In the new plan, the director will have general oversight and serve as the Advance “ambassador” to the Church and beyond. She will be assisted by an executive secretary for marketing and promotion, and staff dealing with gift coordination, project coordination, and annual conference relations.
The Advance was established in the late 1940s both to assistant with post-World War II humanitarian needs and to reflect the religious revival of that period. In a typical year, some $30 million is given for a wide range of mission opportunities. In years of dramatic natural disasters, such as the South Asia tsunami in 2004 and the Gulf Coast hurricanes of 2005, much more is received for emergency relief and rehabilitation.