Nearly ten years ago, our colleague and then District Superintendent of Washington East Rev. Rebecca Iannicelli recommended my entrance into and participation in the Financial Leadership Academy’s (FLA) inaugural class. She promised it would affect my understanding of United Methodist Church finances and give me an accessible language for leading congregations into the future. Stewardship and Church Finances dynamics continue to unfold as congregations are propelled into uncertain and challenging financial futures.
Rebecca was right! FLA greatly enhanced my understanding of United Methodist Church funding, mission shares, budget preparation, financial forecasting, financial team building, and meaningful ways we may connect with our congregations to lead them to greater generosity in even challenging times. The relatively small personal investment from my Continuing Education resources continues to pay huge dividends in returns of investment.
We are all well prepared theologically in seminary to lead churches and develop leadership. However, there are huge gaps in our administrative preparedness and financial knowledge. FLA prepares us to offer new hope and new potential for God’s preferred Vision and Mission of the people called Methodists. FLA also gives us the financial tools to work in partnership with our congregational leaders and conference leadership, as well as networking with each other in local ministries inside and beyond our walls.
I have had the privilege of working with the Mid-Atlantic Foundation since graduating from that first FLA. I serve as a coach and facilitator, and I have witnessed first-hand how the FLA has developed, staying relevant with the times, and accurately forecasting the future of stewardship even at the fast pace of recent cultural changes. More importantly, I have witnessed firsthand how pastors and lay leaders in our congregations have been positively impacted by the experience of FLA. I’ve witnessed new confidence that comes from the support and coaching of FLA staff, as pastors and their teams dare to dream new ideas for funding, more people engaging practices for stewardship, and long-term investment strategies in Kingdom building, mission orientated projects for the sake of the Gospel to change the world.
I have personally helped coach and facilitate formal FLA sessions and informal sessions with colleagues who simply had questions or were looking for new ideas to grow their ministries. The FLA has been instrumental in giving me the tools to connect with colleagues across conference lines as well as in quiet conversations formally or informally arranged. Most importantly to most of you, FLA has helped me be a better pastor regarding Stewardship, Financial Leadership, Administration, and connecting these areas with the people in the pews and communities where I am appointed. My FLA foundations have dramatically helped shape financial leadership teams in the three congregations I have since served.
Without reservation, I commend the Financial Leadership Academy ’25 class to you. The format will give you personal safe space with colleagues to learn and ask questions, invaluable resources, and a coaching experience with you and a team from your congregation to immediately implement what you will learn in tangible ways that make a difference in each of your current and future ministry settings.
I look forward to seeing you at FLA ’25.
In Christ’s service,
Rev. Dr. Walter Beaudwin, Pastor
Saint Andrew’s of Annapolis United Methodist Church & Day School