By Amy Ezell
Director, Center for Communication
When you think of budgets, audits, computer crashes and taxes, do any happy or joyful thoughts come to mind? They definitely do not for me.
But have you stepped foot in the Arkansas Conference of the United Methodist Church Center for Administrative Services? Simply stated, this Center holds some of the most warm, genuine, loyal and smart folks you’ll ever meet, and they make reporting, budgeting, benefits and technology troubleshooting a pleasure.
I asked each of the people in this Center to share their favorite part of their ministry, and every single one of them shared that they love helping people. No one said they love numbers, or preparing reports or anything like that. They all LOVE our United Methodist people and strive to do what it takes behind the scenes to make things easier for those on the “front lines.”
The Center for Administrative Services has three primary functions:
Financial administration for the Conference which includes budget preparation, ensuring proper spending and annual audits
Clergy and retiree benefits
Property management, including leased office space and sale of closed churches
The roles of this Center revolve mostly around money, but the building and maintaining personal relationships can not be overlooked. One of the most important pieces to know about this Center is that every team member (except for one) has served the Arkansas Conference for at least eight years. Some have served for more than 25 years! As you read more about the valued individuals that make up this Center, you will recognize that their ministry focuses on trustworthy relationships.
Todd Burris, the director of the Center for Administrative Services, has been serving the Conference for 25 years this month. Seeing the collective work of churches and knowing that there is a United Methodist presence in communities across the state are things he lists as the best part of his ministry work.
Something that is not a primary function, but is extremely important, is the support Burris and his team do to help churches and clergy find a clear pathway on reporting taxes. This is something made very difficult by the fact that clergy, as dual-status employees, are considered self-employed by the Social Security Administration while the IRS considers them employees of the local church.
Todd is the supervisor of the Center for Administrative staff and considers most of their work done behind the scenes. “We ensure that the vision set forth by the Annual Conference in how to fund its mission priorities is carried out,” he stated.
Megan Rugg came to the Center in June 2018 and has been a true blessing to anyone she works with. She is the Assistant Director and her background as an auditor in public accounting allows her to not just manage payroll, reporting and reconciling accounts, but also serve as a mentor for local churches on tax reporting, accounting best practices and financial reviews.
Melissa Sanders holds several positions as the Financial Controller, Conference Statistician and Annual Conference Registrar. She has served the ARUMC for 28 years. Melissa has held various roles throughout her tenure, but currently processes and distributes tithes and donations to the prospective Conference ministries. She also manages event and Annual Conference registrations, prepares statistical reporting, and works with local churches every day on various projects.
Mona Williams has served as the Conference Benefits Officer at the Conference for almost 19 years. She oversees all employee benefits for both clergy and laity, active and retired. Ask any local church or employee, Mona is a person that people know they can trust. She treats her position as a ministry of love to help churches provide financial peace to our clergy and laity so that they may stay focused on making and sending disciples for Jesus Christ. Mona has spearheaded employee benefit programs that allow for clergy and laity to be the best they can be, both mentally and physically.
Wendy Brunson-Daniels serves as the Assistant Conference Benefits Officer and has been with the ARUMC for almost 18 years. In this role, Wendy works directly with clergy and laity on pension benefits and also generates the monthly billing for tithes, apportionments and personal pension payments. When asked what the best part of her ministry area is, she replied, “I get to help take away stress and worry from clergy about retirement benefits so that they may spend more time making disciples who make disciples for Jesus Christ.”
Palmer Lee is the IT Manager and has served the Conference for eight years. Palmer manages all desktop support for the Conference and District offices. He catalogs all computer equipment for all staff, including those working remotely across the state. Palmer has supervised the ReCharge initiative and maintains all communication systems to make sure they are working properly. You will always find Palmer at Conference events, managing all technology for the production team. His favorite part of ministry is working directly with minority churches and equipping them with tech training and assistance.
The Center for Administrative Services is available to provide support to all Arkansas United Methodist churches and clergy. Please call 501-324-8000 for any inquiries.