Missions Budget Approved

Each year the Good Samaritan Missions Committee prepares a yearly budget that includes the church's support for various local, national, and world-wide ministries. The committee's 2020 budget includes financial support of $215,533 for 26 ministries, which the Vestry approved at its January meeting. This supported-ministries budget reflects a $6,400 increase from 2019 (a three-percent increase). An ad hoc Grants Committee of the Missions Committee reviewed 28 submitted ministry applications and made its recommendations to the full committee, which approved it and sent to the Vestry. The Grants Committee, which spent many hours of work and discussion included Debbie Volk, Kevin Hicks, Cheryl Hutchinson, Justin Crawford, and Keith Dodd.

This budget ends support for two long-supported ministries, the local "Good Works Ministry" and Steve and Nancy Brown in Niger. After many years of medical missionary work in Niger, the Browns are on leave for 2020. If after their year of rest and discernment they begin a new ministry, the committee has encouraged them to apply for 2021. The elimination of support for Good Works was difficult, given our long and active involvement with this ministry that helps with home repair in Chester County. However, after our Good Works "work team" disbanded at the end of 2018 and never has reformed, the committee decided to break financial ties.

The committee is pleased to once again provide support to the Free Church of St. John in Kensington. Due to several internal concerns of lack of accountability for our support, mismanagement and other discord, the missions committee had temporarily ceased any support. Through many difficult months of internal work and guidance from the diocese along with a newly appointed vicar, these problems appear to be resolved, and the committee again is supporting funding of their application for 2020.

The local program that provides ESL services, Gathering Hope, is undergoing a few months period of evaluation, discernment, and renewed programing. Financial support for this ministry is on schedule to be resumed when they restart the revised program, perhaps in late summer.

The budget includes significant to modest increases in support to six ministries that receive high scores on the committee's evaluation criteria. These include Tammy Firestone with La Trinidad Church in Bolivia, the Kenyan Student Christian Fellowship youth ministry, Ninos con Valor in Bolivia, the Rooted in Jesus ministry, Water Mission, and Young Lives of Delaware Valley. Ministries receiving the highest level of support include the CCO work at Good Samaritan of Dan Garrison-Edwards, Fr Ron Irene's ministry in Paraguay, Ninos con Valor, and Water Mission.

Each year the Grants Committee wrestles to determine the level of support for (or even whether to support at all) a few ministries that it knows are doing very good work for God's Kingdom. However, one of the most important of the criteria for evaluating ministries is "the degree to which the ministry stimulates interest and involvement within the congregation". This was the key factor in the decision to cease support of the important ministry of Good Works. Another such valuable ministry is that of CityTeam in Chester. It provides ministries in God's name and has many ways people could get involved. However, over recent years, there appears to be less and less interest and especially involvement in the work of CityTeam within our congregation. A few years ago, CityTeam was one of our most highly supported ministries. As a result of perceived lack of church interest, that financial support is now much less. The committee decided to continue funding in 2020 with the hope that CityTeam's recent incorporation of the Seven Harvest ministry might stimulate local interest.

The Mwamba Foundation, which provides scholarships for bright high school students from poor families and needy seminary students in North-Western part of Kenya, has long received financial support from Good Samaritan. Also, several members of the congregation sponsor individual students. In the past two years, the committee has had concerns about the lack of communication from Mwamba about our support and also poor communication with sponsoring families. The Missions Committee decided to provide funding for 2020 but with the condition that any funds beyond the second quarter will be "held" pending a review that concerns are being satisfactorily addressed. Apparently, some of the concerns lie with the U.S. board for Mwamba. They recognize the need for improvement and have stated their intent to address concerns. Reuben Garrett of the missions committee has recently been accepted as a member of Mwamba's board, and it is hoped that his involvement will result in the committee's support without concerns.

A full list of the 26 ministries slated for support in 2020, including Good Samaritan Advocates, can be found here: SupportedMinistries2020January.pdf

In addition to the major portion of the Missions Committee's 2020 budget for support of ministries, there is also provision for other expenditures. These include funds for Short-Term Missionary support (usually small grants to help a congregational member for a missionary trip sponsored by another organization), possible New Ministries that might come to light during the year, and Mission/Education support. This year's budgeted funds for Mission/Education support is earmarked for the planned church mission trip to Bolivia this summer.

At the end of February, after three years as chair, Keith Dodd will step down from that position. Keith had taken the leadership role after Kevin Hicks stepped down after three years of service. Kevin continues on the committee and Keith also plans to continue. Richard Morgan named a current member of the Missions Committee, Justin Crawford to assume the role of chair. In March, Justin will be off a multi-year term on Vestry.