Procedures to Follow in Providing Oblation Assistance in Canada
Verify Recipient Qualifications
Verify the membership and/or association with the church of the person(s) seeking assistance.
- Consult with congregation recorder if there is a question about membership status of local persons.
- In the case of transient persons or members who have just transferred into the congregation, verify membership and previous instances of aid given by calling Fiscal Services in Independence. Have transient person provide a name and phone number to verify identity and destination. In Canada also call the Canadian Headquarters at 1-888-411-75371-888-411-7537.
- As stated above, active membership is not required to receive oblation aid. If the person making the request is an inactive member or nonmember there should be an association and on-going ministry between the person and the church.
Determine the nature of the needs and attitudes.
- The CFO or MCFO should be personally involved with and in direct contact with the person(s) requesting aid to ascertain the facts in the case and to determine the attitude of persons involved. If the CFO or MCFO is not available in the area, then another minister may be designated to serve as the primary liaison between the person(s) requesting aid and the CFO/MCFO processing the financial aid. Likewise if the CFO or MCFO does not feel gifted in providing oblation ministry, another minister may be designated to serve as the oblation minister for the jurisdiction to liaison between the person(s) requesting aid and the CFO/MCFO processing the financial aid.
- In most cases this ministry to persons in need will be in conjunction with the Pastor, members of the priesthood, or other local officers. Their counsel should be considered carefully with the facts in the case.
- It is the responsibility of the CFO to make the decision regarding the use of oblation or in making a recommendation to the MCFO. While the advice of the church administrative officers should be considered carefully, it does not remove the CFO or MCFO of responsibility to make the decisions.
- Providing financial aid is not always the best form of ministry for a person in need. Sometimes it is simply the easiest to provide. When a person in need approaches the church for financial assistance, our first goal is in discerning the deeper ministerial needs of the individual and seeking ways to provide ministry that is consistent with the message of Jesus. Even when financial aid is not provided, the CFO/MCFO should provide follow-up ministry, where appropriate, to insure that the persons still understands their value in the world as a child of God.
Determine the Kind of Assistance Required
Oblation assistance is provided under two distinct categories:
- emergency or one-time needs
- extended assistance
Emergency needs are defined as one-time requirements. If the financial requirement is within the limits authorized for CFOs, they are free to give the assistance based on their judgment and subject to the requirements of these procedures.
If the financial requirements exceed the CFOs' authorized limits, they should contact the MCFO. If the financial needs are beyond the MCFO's limits, contact Fiscal Services in Independence.
Whenever needed, CFOs should complete an Oblation Aid Worksheet form (OB-101) to assist them in gathering the facts and helping the recipient(s) face their situation realistically.
Gather the Essential Facts
Form OB-101 has several purposes:
- It provides CFOs, MCFOs, and administrative officers involved with an orderly and systematic procedure for gathering the important factors in the case.
- It helps the prospective recipients face the facts of their situation realistically.
- It exposes prospective recipients to basic stewardship disciplines, such as prayerful financial planning.
- It provides Fiscal Services with information necessary to make decisions that are referred to World Church headquarters.
Because Form OB-101 is a tool for the minister, under no circumstances should it be handed or mailed to the prospective aid recipient to fill out!
Because the purpose of oblation is to minister to those who may be poor and needy, the process of gathering the essential facts must be done in the context of ministry.
Because the primary objective is ministry, oblation should never be used simply to "get someone off our backs." The ministry given should assist persons to face realistically their situation and take positive steps to overcome the cause of their need.
Expenditures from Oblation
If the Oblation Aid Worksheet (OB-101) indicates a one-time need, CFOs can either:
- Issue a cheque, if the dollar requirement is within the CFO authorized limits. (Whenever possible, make the cheque payable to vendors or services for which the person is requiring assistance as opposed to making the cheque payable to the individual. Another option is to take the person to the store to assist them in making purchases to meet their basic needs.)
- Make a recommendation to the MCFO if the dollar requirement is above the CFO authorized limit. If the financial needs are within the authorized limits, and the MCFO concurs in the decision to give assistance, the MCFO can either authorize the CFO to expend the funds or send a cheque from the MC account. If the requirements exceed the MCFO's limits, the MCFO should make the recommendation directly to Fiscal Services in Independence.
If the Oblation Aid Worksheet (OB-101) indicates that an extended period of assistance is required, CFOs should forward the Worksheet with recommendation directly to the MCFO.
- If the MCFO concurs in the recommendation, a copy is sent to Fiscal Services in Independence.
- Monthly cheques will be sent out by the CFO or MCFO, depending on what is most convenient. This extended aid will be for a period no longer than three months. The case should be reviewed during the third month.
- It will be the responsibility of the CFO/MCFO to initiate the three-month review and communicate, if needed, with Fiscal Services any further recommendations.
- Extended periods of aid beyond the normal three-month period may be granted when circumstances warrant. Fiscal Services approval is required before the three-month period is extended.
An Oblation Aid Report, form (OB-100), must be filled out in detail for every expenditure from Oblation.
- The Presiding Bishopric’s copy of the OB-100 should be attached to an OB-102 Reimbursement Form and mailed directly to the Canadian Headquarters Office in Guelph, Ontario, for reimbursement.
- When an Oblation Aid Worksheet (Form OB-101) has been approved, an OB-100 form needs to be filled out with each cheque forwarded, noting that it is the first, second, or third monthly cheque approval.
These Oblation Reports are kept in a central file in Fiscal Services and at the Canadian Headquarters for the purpose of analysis and ready reference for the field. (Files are maintained for persons who have received aid within the past 10 years.)
- This is particularly important in keeping up with transient persons who make a habit of abusing the fund.
- However, it is also important to provide case histories on members who may move from one jurisdiction to another.
MCFOs should make general reports to their Mission Center conferences on the ministry of this fund in their area. Do not disclose any confidential or identifying information regarding cases.
Follow Up Ministry
It is appropriate for the minister who evaluated the case to make follow up contact with the person(s) who received assistance. It is important for the person(s) receiving aid to understand that they are persons of value and that requesting aid does not isolate them from the body. Likewise, it allows the minister to reinforce the incorporation of the principles of A Disciple’s Generous Response into the life of the person(s) receiving aid.
In complex cases, it may be appropriate to develop an action list that identifies all the actions that are going to be accomplished by the various parties of the oblation case. There is no form for this. It is simply a list of what the recipient, the minister, and the oblation fund have committed to and by when. Follow up ministry then allows everyone to review the status of the action list.
Where to Turn - Additional Assistance
Plan Before the Need Arises
It is very helpful if CFOs and MCFOs put together resource lists of agencies that are available in their community to help people in need. Then if a transient person stops by the church, or if a member’s need exceeds the capacity of the oblation program to support, the CFO/MCFO has options where to refer the person. The following sections provide some ideas where to look to determine what is available in a specific area.
Providing assistance to those in need is often an excellent opportunity to work with other churches in the community. Ministerial alliances providing social ministries should be considered as a possible option on how to extend the limited support available through the oblation program.
Provincial Welfare Departments
Consult state government pages of telephone book to find welfare or social service department numbers for your province.
Local counseling, crisis intervention, and short-term financial assistance
Alcoholics Anonymous: A fellowship of men and women who share their experiences to help each other overcome their common problem of alcoholism. There is no membership fee. Alateen is a similar program for teenage alcoholics. Alanon is a program to help family members of alcoholics learn how to help the alcoholic. It provides strength and support for family members who must live with an alcoholic.
Red Cross: Provides assistance to individuals and families in floods, tornadoes, fires, etc. Assists families burned out of their homes with relocation, and pays for furniture, clothing and rent. Helps military families and veterans with emergency communications between military personnel and their families, provides them with family counseling, assistance in securing government benefits, and financial and transportation for the handicapped.
Child Abuse Hot Line: According to laws in every state, the following persons are required to immediately report suspected or observed child abuse or neglect to their welfare department Child Protection Unit: physicians, dentists, interns, nurses, psychologists, teachers, principals, other school officials, social workers, daycare center workers, ministers, peace officers, and any other person with responsibility for the care of children (some states list other persons as well).
The person making the report is immune from any liability--civil or criminal. All reports are followed up by the state. FAILURE TO REPORT CHILD ABUSE OR NEGLECT IS PUNISHABLE BY FINE OR IMPRISONMENT.
Consumer Credit Counseling: A free service for people with debt problems. The program helps people set up a plan to repay debts which the person can afford, and which the creditors will accept. Most credit bureaus can refer you to this service.
Legal Aid (Assistance): Provides legal representation and services for low-income persons. Clients must meet financial guidelines to qualify. This service does not include fee-generating cases such as libel or compensatory suits.
Salvation Army: A Christian-oriented social service agency, which is found in most states. Services may include free or low-cost housing, food, clothing, and furniture. Their emergency shelters provide free room and board for one to five days for families in need. Many of their agencies have alcoholic rehabilitation programs.
Community Centers: Often these centers provide a wide variety of programs to youth and senior citizens, including an emergency financial assistance fund and a food pantry.
National and Provincial Programs
Programs are available from the Province and the National Government. See the "blue pages" in the telephone book for information about these programs.