2018 Ezra Reporting
December 28, 2017
Dear Colleagues in Ministry,
I hope this finds you well and that you had a wonderful Christmas. As United Methodists, one of our annual responsibilities required by the Book of Discipline is the preparation of The Local Church Report to the Annual Conference. This information is used for planning purposes as well as financial purposes, both at the denominational and the conference level.
The information requested on the statistical reports usually changes every four years in response to General Conference. This quadrennium is no exception but the changes are minimal. I am very pleased to announce that you can access a recording of the December 12 EZRA training along with all the hand-outs from the meeting, on the Conference web-site. I hope you will find this helpful as you provide your report this year. You can access the training on the Susquehanna Conference web-site (susumc.org) by selecting Finance/Administration – EZRA Training Video & Additional Resources under the About Us Banner.
As in previous years, we will be using the GCFA website to gather the required information. The site, located at http://ezra.gcfa.org, will open January 1 for you to enter your church’s data. Please note, the pastor of each church is ultimately responsible for the completion of this process. If you do not have access to the website, you may complete your church’s information by paper and submit it to the Finance office to be entered. Please contact the finance office for a report form with your church’s 2017 information to use for manual submission.
Please read the following information prior to preparing your forms:
- Log In - Each church within the Susquehanna Conference has a unique EZRA account. You will need to Log In using the same User and Password that was used last year. If you do not recall your log-in information or if someone else input the information in a previous year, the following information may be helpful:
- The username for each church is usually formatted as 321 followed by your 5 digit local church number (if your church number is only 4 digits, precede it by a '0').
- As of today, All passwords have been set to susumc.
- If you cannot log into the system, please contact Nate Smith at 800-874-8474 for further assistance.
- You must access the EZRA site and enter information for every church in your charge that was in operation at any time during 2017. If a church has closed or merged during 2017, you must bring the ending membership to zero. This will enable that church to be closed in the EZRA system for the next year. Please access Table 1 for a closed church and enter the membership transfer information in the top section.
- Once you are logged into the EZRA system, use Print Blank Forms to print out a copy of the prior year’s report which can then be used as a worksheet for your 2017 data. A printable version of all line directions can be found on the under Reports in the top grey banner (report is called Printable Line Directions). During your actual data entry process, this information can be found as well for each individual line by clicking on the “?” to the right of each line.
- When you are ready to enter your data into the system, access the entry screen by clicking on Enter Stats. Please enter data rounded to the nearest whole number only. The system does not recognize cents. When you are done entering the information for a table, click on the “Save” button. Once you save, the system may generate a warning or request an explanation for the information you entered. If you receive any such warning or requests for explanation, please take the time to enter and review this information for accuracy before your final report submission. You can save your information at any time and come back later to finish.
- The report data is organized in the following manner:
- Table 1 – Membership & Participation – used to collect data on membership and attendance
- Table 2 – Church Assets and Expenses
- Lines 28-36 on Table 2 will be provided directly by the Finance office for each church based on the remittance data for the year.
- Lines 41 through 47 will be used to calculate your 2019 Shares of Ministry.
- Table 2B – This is a new table. The information on this table is used to calculate the Worker’s Compensation premium for the Conference andREPLACES the Daycare Exemption Request form. Please see the information below relating to daycares and preschools.
- Table 3 – Church Income – Collects income data
- Church daycares & preschools - In 1999 the Annual Conference amended the 1996 action regarding exemptions as follows: “Expenses associated with church provided pre-school and daycare programs, elder-care programs and college campus ministries which are under the direct, complete and active control of the local churchshall be included in statistical information, but they may be exempt from the formula calculations upon completion of a form to be provided by the Conference FinanceOffice.”
- Please remember that the statistical forms have been prepared by the denomination, not by the Conference office. I understand that some of you do not appreciate being asked to provide the Racial/Ethnic Identification or the Gender Identification but I ask your cooperation in this matter. This information is used to plan for denomination materials and future ministry.
All reports must be completed, either via the Internet or manually, by the deadline of January 31, 2018. If you are not able to meet this deadline, please contact the Finance office and your District Superintendent as soon as possible. By direction of the Conference Cabinet, failure to submit your report by the deadline could result in an additional increase to your church’s shares of ministry for the following year.
I would like to thank you in advance for your cooperation in helping us with this very important task in the life and ministry of The United Methodist Church. The statistical reports serve as a tool to help the Cabinet assess our strengths and weaknesses as we plan for future ministry. They also provide information to the General Church and our insurance carriers more easily and more quickly than might otherwise be possible. Thank you in advance for submitting your information as accurately and timely as possible. If you experience online problems, please let us know immediately so I can contact GCFA for assistance.
Please let me know if you need additional information or if I can be of further assistance.
Fax - 717-766-7696
Charity Tree at the Grotto
I spoke with Grotto again today. The top three trees with the most votes will split the entry fees from all the trees (well half because off the top of the entry fees $150, $75 goes directly to each tree's organization chosen charity) and they split all the donations collected from all the trees throughout the season. Also today the gentleman informed me there is a $25,000 split at the end with the top trees again receiving the most money.
What a blessed opportunity to have the Word of God in a public forum. Our goal is to have persons who view the tree to have the Holy Spirit stirred up within them and walk away from the tree with a genuine spiritual experience either by seeing a Bible story ornament that brings about a church memory for them if they haven't attended a worship service in a while or have something speak to their heart giving them a message they need to have in their lives from God. Hopefully, all might be motivated to come to a church.
The LIUMC chose Mission Central with the local connection to the Shoemaker HUB to give their money to, for all the countless lives they touch daily and in times of disaster relief. The God stories they share are amazing. God is great! We pray we can contribute as much as possible.
I know this church is a generously giving church. But I'm hoping in 2018 they will bring the Good News out of the walls of the church more in purposeful outreach projects that make a progressive difference in people's lives who are in need of God's grace. Even though the tree isn't actually getting muddy in missions, I pray that it will also motivate the congregation as we go forth to execute our new vision and mission statements.
Prayers for all that we do as the church united. And thank you for all you do for us.