By David Stotts
Apportioned giving is our way in The United Methodist Church of being in “big” ministry even though we are a conference of small local churches.
For example, none of our churches could singlehandedly provide camping facilities and staff like we have available at Lake Stephens, Wesley Pines and Seashore Assembly. Yet, more people met Jesus at our camps last year than in 90 percent of our churches.
Caring for the sick, widowed and disadvantaged and educating our young people are fundamental parts of who we are as United Methodists, and we share in these ministries together through our connectional giving.
Of course, the apportionment system is not what is important at the end of the day, but this system allows us all as United Methodists to put fuel in the vehicle that delivers mission and ministry to all of God’s people. That is what is important, because at the end of the day, we must be able to answer the question of what each one of us did to make disciples of Jesus Christ.
I am happy to report that our giving as of April 30 is $3,204 ahead of last year. This is good news – except with no budget increase from 2006 to 2007, this shows no growth in giving.
Two trends in our giving are cause for alarm. First, giving is down from 2006 in six of our 11 districts. Second, 300 churches spread throughout all districts have paid nothing at all this year on their apportionments, which together total $2,043,670, or 11 percent of the total conference budget. At this time last year, 293 churches were at zero. The total apportionments of those churches represented $1,938,938, or 10 percent of the budget. This is definitely a trend that we must not continue.
However, we do have reasons for great celebration. A third of the way through the year, 68 churches have already reached 100 percent, and 329 churches have paid 33.3 percent or more! This means we have 397 churches giving to the apportionments systematically. I give thanks for the good stewardship and faithfulness of these congregations.
Churches can check their level of apportionment giving any time by clicking here. You will need your GCFA number and local church number to log in.
At Annual Conference, the Council on Finance and Administration will recognize the churches that have given systematically in 2007. CFA encourages churches to send in apportionments each month. At the end of May, churches that give systematically will be at 5/12ths, or 41.67 percent, of their apportioned amount.
Wouldn’t it be great to recognize all 1,142 churches for being at the 41.67 percent level? Can we do it? Of course we can, with God’s help.
I hope that each one of you will encourage your church to catch up if you are behind in connectional giving. Most every one of us, whether we are lay or clergy, retired or active, receive our compensation on a systematic basis. If we do not give systematically, we are keeping the ministries we support from receiving their “fuel” on a regular, dependable basis. This, in turn, hampers our day-to-day mission and ministry. Are we really doing unto others as we would have them do unto us?
I look forward to seeing you at Annual Conference as we have conversation on how God is moving among us and our churches. It will be a great time of worship and a great time to look forward to how we will be serving our Risen Lord together over the next year.