Denominational finance is a subject of considerable interest and importance. It has much to do with the strength, initiative and future directions of the respective denominations. While the total assets continue to rise in both headquarters, the reader is cautioned against any premature conclusions that either denomination is affluent. Both could use considerably more money for general advance and service to churches. Even though, as will be shown, the Unitarians have about $14millions, while the Universalists have nearly $6millions, not all of the income of these amounts are available for budgetary purposes. A significant portion in each denomination consists of trust funds over whose capital or income no control can be exercised. The same is true for the one Unitarian Region (Western) and the State Conventions which have assets.
While there are some financial similarities between the two denominations, there are also significant differences. Both have many different funds at headquarters, some of which are held in trust for churches and other organizations. Each of the national offices has pooled a very significant number of funds for investment purposes with annual earnings from these pools being distributed on a share basis. Both have investment committees which have done very well with investment earnings that outstrip the results of many other institutional portfolios.
There is a significant difference in the amounts of assets at the respective headquarters. Actual amounts appear on the next page. This difference is due in part to the respective patterns of denominational organization, a condition of many years’ standing. While both denominations have central headquarters and major second level organizations, only one Region has any assets of its own, whereas, there are at least 18 State Conventions holding funds of their own plus funds held for churches and other organizations within their several states (see page 60). This situation arises from the fact that a number of the Conventions were formed before the U.C.A., and to which bequests, grants and gifts were made for many years and continue to be made. The amount of Region funds compared with A.U.A. headquarters holdings is quite small, whereas, the State Conventions collectively have significantly greater assets than does U.C.A. headquarters.
The total assets at Unitarian and Universalist headquarters together with those for the Beacon Press, Unitarian Service Committee and the Universalist Publishing House as of the most recent dates obtainable are shown in Tables 20 and 21.
TABLE 20 — Assets at Respective Headquarters Plus Those of the Beacon Press, Unitarian Service Committee and the Universalist Publishing House
Unitarian Assets 4/30/58
A.U.A. Publications Dept.
Unitarian Service Committee b
Universalist Assets 6/30/58
Universalist Publishing House c
a At lower of cost or market
b Year ended December 31, 1957
c Year ended March 31, 1958
TABLE 21 — Summary of Respective Assets of the Two Headquarters and of the Beacon Press Unitarian Service Committee, the Universalist Publishing House, Regions and State Conventions
Assets Not at Headquarters
Each Regional, and State Convention treasurer was contacted to secure the most recent figures on assets and either annual expense or current budget. They were also requested to furnish the amount of assets, the income of which could be used for various operating and non—operating purposes. Table 22 shows the data furnished.
TABLE 22 — The Assets of Unitarian Regions and Universalist State Conventions together with Annual Expenses.
* Interest therefrom
** Actual expense year end shown or current budget
a No response from Treasurer — data obtained from previous reports
b Not ascertained
c Accrued from sale of church property; if any such societies wish to reactivate, their money
must be returned
d Includes pensions
e Includes ministerial relief
f Insurance premiums
The data shown in Table 21 indicate a total assets ratio of approximately 2.4 to 1 in favor of the Unitarians. The total assets (Table 21) per legal member (Table 10) comparison for Unitarians and Universalists is $131 and $136, respectively.
A special fact to be borne in mind is that total assets are very different from those owned by either denominational headquarters. An institution can have a large amount of total assets, but a significant portion may be in trust funds belonging to others. Table 22 shows a partitioning of all assets for Regions and Conventions. The same procedure was applied to A.U.A. and U.C.A. headquarters total assets with the Department of Publications, the Beacon Press, Unitarian Service Committee and Universalist Publishing House omitted, with the following results:
* Income therefrom
** Based on 40 639% of General Investment Fund ($9,526,865) income which passes through A.U.A. budget and portions of which must he used for specified purposes.
Thus the Unitarians and Universalists may use the income from 29 and 63 per cent of their total headquarters assets, respectively, for budgetary purposes. Moreover, portions of the income must be applied to specific purposes.
Table 22 shows the most recent annual expense or current budget for the several Regions and Conventions. There is a very significant difference in totals for Regions and Conventions, with the Unitarians spending approximately $158,000, whereas the Universalists spend about. $170,000. Many of the amounts are spent in much the same geographical area. If there should be a merger, this is one of the areas in which some economies might be expected due to duplication.
Annual Income and Expense
Space does not permit any volume of detail or lengthy analyses of income and expense. Figures presented below show income and expense for both headquarters for fiscal years just completed:
Funds at Headquarters
As has been mentioned, each headquarters has many funds for various purposes. A comparison of funds classified into categories shows the following:
TABLE 23 — A Comparison of Funds Held at Unitarian and Universalist Headquarters According to Nature and Purpose.
These data are shown for those readers who are especially interested in the respective fund situations. They are useful to show where the respective denominations are strong or where they need further support.