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Balancing the Burden
As the sole staff member of Bright City Church in west Oklahoma City, pastor Rick Cordova knew he couldn’t do it all.
“As a brand-new church starting from the ground up, we wanted to build an infrastructure that allowed us to meet the needs of our community,” Cordova says.
That’s where WatersEdge Ministry Accounting comes in. Launched in 2019, the service offers bookkeeping, payroll and contribution tracking to Baptist churches, associations and organizations. It is designed to lift the accounting burden off church leaders’ shoulders so they can focus more on the Gospel and less on finances.
But saving time isn’t the only benefit. Cordova says Ministry Accounting is also helping cut costs so he can maximize ministry dollars.
“WatersEdge accounting is saving us thousands of dollars as opposed to hiring someone for that position. As a result, we’re even more involved in our community, whether it’s through benevolence, helping someone with rent, or feeding our local high school football team. Those savings have also helped us make renovations and get the church building in working order.”
Brandon Adams, pastor of education and administration at First Baptist Choctaw, Oklahoma, jumped at the opportunity to free up more resources by trusting WatersEdge to manage the church’s accounting. Adams wanted to help send the students at his church on a mission trip, but he didn’t have the funds.
“Our youth were able to participate in a GO Students project last summer in Belize, and thanks to money we saved with WatersEdge, the church was able to pay about 25 to 30 percent of each person’s cost,” Adams says. “We also sent groups to Guatemala and Montenegro, and helped plant a church in Kansas City.”
Sarah Barham, vice president of Ministry Accounting, says the service helps save churches an average of $400 per month. “It’s money that often goes toward a salaried position or costly accounting software,” Barham explains, “but with the help of WatersEdge, those savings have been used to fund a variety of other ministry efforts.”
The expertise that WatersEdge brings also helps churches keep up with an ever-changing financial landscape.
“When you’re dealing with tax changes or associated legal issues, it gets complicated quickly,” Adams says. “We trust WatersEdge to be on top of that and let us know what’s going on.”
The WatersEdge Ministry Accounting team currently serves 34 churches and associations across Oklahoma. Barham and her staff are prepared to take on additional churches by year’s end.
Shellie Tellez, secretary at Shields Boulevard Baptist Church in Oklahoma City, says her congregation’s switch to WatersEdge has made her workload much more manageable.
“I’m also the church clerk, so I had to do it all,” Tellez says. “Partnering with WatersEdge took such a heavy load off of me, and I absolutely love working with them.”
Barham has also seen Ministry Accounting provide relief for a dedicated volunteer or church staff member who handled their congregation’s accounting for decades and felt a burden to stay on and continue helping because no one was available to take over.
“It’s freeing to know that when they’re ready, they can retire and someone capable will be there to keep things flowing smoothly,” Barham adds.
For First Baptist Church of Ponca City, Oklahoma, WatersEdge filled such a need.
“Our secretary of more than 30 years was retiring,” says pastor Michael Taylor. “We knew that replacing her was going to be impossible, so we started looking at outside firms and found WatersEdge.
“They’ve tailored their approach to meet our church’s needs with solid accounting practices. It’s not a one size fits all approach. They’ve been receptive to suggestions and requests. The heartbeat that drives their operation is serving the local church.”