NASHVILLE — For two days last week church administrators, ministry assistants, ministers and treasurers, both paid and volunteer, and Baptist association personnel heard updates on risk management, Medicare, IRS rules and new health care legislation including preparation for what is known as Obamacare at the Church Administration Conference.
The meeting was held by the Tennessee Baptist Convention and GuideStone of Dallas, Texas. GuideStone provides insurance and retirement fund management for many Tennessee Baptist ministers, denominational workers and churches.
The conference is held annually and drew about 100 conferees of several denominations. This year it was held at Judson Baptist Church, Nashville.
Richard Skidmore, financial support specialist, TBC, said the meeting was for anyone who deals with the business and financial affairs of the church and is important because “legal issues continue to be reviewed by the courts and passed” related to churches. For instance, as part of the new health care legislation, churches will be required to report to the government concerning what they are paying for their staff’s health insurance and some will be eligible for a credit.
This year keynote speaker Frank Sommerville, an attorney and CPA of Dallas, Texas, spoke on legal issues affecting churches and non-profits. Also Patti Malott, founder of Upright Ministries, Spring, Texas, led conferences on risk management for churches and non-profits generally and particularly in the areas of children and youth.
Nora Wiser, church treasurer, Inskip Baptist Church, Knoxville, attended with three other members of the church’s staff. She said since attending the conferences the church has made a lot of improvements in its processes.
“It is important for all of us to be up on financial and IRS laws,” said Wiser.
She noted that there are an enormous number of financial policies that affect churches and it is easier to learn about them from a speaker who also explains them than to just read them.
Wiser added that she also enjoys the time spent with staff members and laypeople of other churches and “learning from them.”
Latona F. Disher, executive business manager, Destiny Metropolitan Worship Church, Atlanta, Ga., said she learned about the conference from her membership in the National Association of Church Business Administrators. Disher who has attended several years said she enjoys this meeting because it is smaller than some conferences offered on the same issues and it is good. She added that it is essential for church staff to learn about the changing laws each year to maintain legal processes.
Leading a seminar on optimizing audits and other services provided by an independent accounting firm was Daniel M. Campbell, a CPA and partner of the firm, CapinCrouse of Lawrenceville, Ga.
An accounting firm which serves churches generally offers several levels of service in the area of audits, he said. For instance, a church can arrange for a full audit, but it also can choose a review, compilation and consulting review.
If a church is told it needs GAAP (generally accepted accounting principles) financial statements, it may be able to conduct a review of its financial statements rather than an audit. If a church is looking for a review of policies and procedures only, it may choose to conduct a church consulting review.
Oftentimes a review or consulting review is “more meaningful and less expensive” than a full audit, stated Campbell.
Churches ought to carefully consider the information they need from an accounting firm, if they don’t want to just receive the packet containing the financial statements, he noted.
Leading another seminar entitled “Medicare Alphabet Soup — ABC & D of It” was Laura Dillon, senior manager of relationship management, GuideStone.
She presented an overview of Medicare including the issue of churches with employees who are Medicare eligible. Medicare can be a primary or secondary insurance depending upon the number of employees at the church, she added. Generally, for employers with over 20 employees Medicare will be a secondary insurance and under 20 employees Medicare will become primary insurance coverage. It is important that churches and their employees be in contact with Medicare as those employees become Medicare eligible.
Dillon said that GuideStone also will provide more information about this issue and others to people at www.GuideStone.org or 1-888-98-GUIDE (48433).
In addition to these conferences, there were seminars on a variety of topics including basics for church treasurers, effective internal controls and supply line management. Attendees were also able to attend a workshop on employment regulations which included an explanation of e-verify and the I-9 immigration form.