Treasurer expresses thanks for churches' giving in 2005


In August, David Stotts was worried about apportionments – even before Hurricane Katrina roared through Mississippi. Six months later, the grateful conference treasurer has two words for Mississippi United Methodists: thank you.  


“I give my thanks to our churches, and I give all the glory to God for the things he has done for us,” said Stotts. “Thank you, thank you, thank you.”


Churches gave $15,317,902, or 86.95 percent of the conference budget, in 2005, Stotts announced.


The figure is just a fraction off the percentage the conference achieved in 2004 and is $668,807 more than received in 2004. The conference budget for 2005 was $17,616,328. Of 1,147 churches in the conference, 648 paid 100 percent of their apportionment.


In early August, apportioned giving was 1.7 percent behind the same date the previous year, and Katrina brought marked uncertainty, as conference leaders waited to see the Aug. 29 storm’s impact on churches’ ability to continue their connectional giving.


Now, they can’t say enough about the outpouring of support from Mississippi United Methodists through apportioned giving and second-mile giving to United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) and special Katrina appeals.


“The generosity of the Mississippi Conference is glorious to behold! Thanks be to God for your radiant light, shining with power in the world,” said Bishop Hope Morgan Ward. “Your faithfulness through apportioned giving and your overflowing generosity in Katrina response is a brilliant witness to Christ, the Light.”


“It amazes me how local churches have continued their giving under such difficult circumstances,” said Delmar Robinson, chair of the conference Council on Finance and Administration. “It tells me that while we’ve had a disaster, it has not deterred them from their Christian beliefs. I believe Katrina caused church members to reflect upon what the church is all about.”


“Surveys show that Mississippi people are some of the most generous in the nation, and when you add up our churches’ giving to the tsunami, to the Annual Conference mission offering for Society of St. Andrew, to Katrina relief, to various other designated specials and to the apportionments, total giving in 2005 was $18,010,405,” said Stotts. “Again, thank you, thank you, thank you.”


After the hurricane, Stotts calculated that churches outside the Seashore District would need to give 118 percent to apportionments for the conference to equal its 2004 performance. Answering the call, 115 churches outside the district paid more than 100 percent of their 2005 apportionment. These gifts totaled $358,929 and helped 32 Seashore churches reach the same percentage of apportioned giving they attained in 2004, said Stotts. Without any assistance 45 Seashore churches paid 100 percent. In addition, the Iowa Annual Conference gave $100,000 to help pay the pension and insurance line items for Seashore churches.


Through December, Mississippi Conference churches gave $148,455 to UMCOR for the rebuilding of homes and communities devastated by Katrina. Mississippi United Methodists gave another $448,759 to support conference churches and clergy directly impacted by the storm.


Gifts for Katrina relief have come to UMCOR from around the world and now total more than $50 million. The Mississippi Conference requested and received $1,397,289 from UMCOR in 2005, and has submitted a 2006 request in excess of $2.6 million. These gifts are funding direct aid, materials, operation of the Disaster Response Center in Meridian and the Mississippi United Methodist Katrina Response staff, now numbering 21.


NOTE: This article appeared in the 2005 Giving Report in the Advocate. The report also listed every church's apportioned giving percentage in 2005 and the churches that gave to UMCOR, the Bishop's Advance and Seashore District apportionments.