Renew practice, teaching of tithing


How exciting it is for an accountant for a year to end and finally be closed out. Our lives as accountants center on getting the numbers correct and getting the year closed out properly. That has happened for the Mississippi Conference in all phases of conference, recovery, pensions and insurance. 

As I reflect on the 2006 year, I see how blessed our conference really is. We have faithful churches giving to the connectional ministries. Some 671 churches, or 19 more churches than in 2005, are 100 percent connectional churches for 2006, meaning they gave every line item as apportioned.   

The overall achievement of the apportionments was 87.06 percent, the same as it was in 2004. It is 0.04 of a percent more than 2005. We should remember that the 2006 budget increased by $1,778,645 over the 2004 budget. Giving to the budget in 2006 increased by $1,549,288.  

What astounds me is that between Dec. 31, 2004, and Dec. 31, 2006, we had Hurricane Katrina. Even with the devastation as great as it was, our United Methodist churches continued the work we have been called to do even while we recovered from the winds and water of Katrina.  

In 2006 we completed the settlement of 368 insurance claims resulting from Katrina. We found better insurance for all perils for our churches. Almost all of our churches are back in full operation. We must remember that there are a few who have a long way to go. We must continue to provide them our assistance and prayers.  

The year 2005 will go down in history because of the devastation of Katrina. Yet, history also shows that our conference has continued to provide the ministry we are called to do in the world through apportioned giving.  

We have learned in a big way what it means to be connectional as we saw the money and volunteers come into Mississippi to help us recover. With the funds for humanitarian efforts from local churches coming to us through United Methodist Committee on Relief and the Council of Bishops’ appeal for churches recovery, we have lived and benefited from the connection. Isn’t it great to be a part of a denomination that can have so many small churches but be in big ministry all over the world? 

As we look into the future, let us strive to be in big ministry in our local area, district, conference and world. We benefit daily from God’s gifts. We must renew our efforts to be good and responsible stewards. Let us each become more connectional in our great United Methodist church.  

The lesson I believe we as United Methodist have to learn the most about is giving and stewardship. We must renew our practice and teaching of tithing. We need to begin today stepping forward in our giving. Have you ever thought about what a 1 percent increase in your giving will do in your local church?  

Think and pray about this and then discuss it next Sunday in your Sunday school class. It is a small amount, but collectively could be a large step for God’s Kingdom.

I challenge us as we each move forward in our stewardship efforts individually and collectively. Will you help make the conference apportionments reach 90 percent next year? It will be amazing to see what additionally ministry can be done because of a 3 percent increase in giving to our apportionments. 

May God bless and lead you as you think about this. 

Stotts is conference treasurer and director of Finance and Administration.