Giving sets record, but budget short


By the Advocate

Mississippi United Methodists set a record for giving in 2008.

Church members gave $16,960,883 toward apportionments, or fair-share askings, said Mississippi Conference Treasurer David Stotts. That total represents a $1,360,397 increase over the amount given in 2007. Stotts said it’s the most ever given to the Mississippi Conference.

The total represents 82.08 percent of the $20,664,572 budget for 2008. The percentage of the budget given is a 1.77 percent decrease from the 83.85 percent given in 2007.

Meanwhile, the conference Council on Finance and Administration followed the recommendation of one of its subcommittees and voted to freeze conference salaries.

Stotts said the figures are even more impressive when considering the state of the U.S. economy.

 “We are so blessed in the Mississippi Conference,” Stotts said. “Preliminary reports from across the denomination show that for every conference that increased their receipts, three had a decrease. Most decreases were much larger than the 1.77 percent experienced in Mississippi. Most of their budgets did not increase as much as the Mississippi Conference. That is why I say we are so blessed.” 

At its meeting on Jan. 15, CF&A adopted the recommendation of the administrative subcommittee to freeze conference salaries until further notice. The recommendation had the endorsement of the 11 district superintendents and the senior staff of the conference headquarters.

The decision was one of the steps CF&A took as it began the 2010 budget process for reporting to the 2009 Annual Conference. CF&A has created six committees to allow it to deeper research the financial needs of the conference as well as the way that it does business.

The administrative committee, along with CF&A chair the Rev. Danny Rowland, plans to meet quarterly with Stotts and senior staff to review the receipts of the conference and the related expenditures. Stotts said hard financial times demand that CF&A keep close watch on the pulse of the annual conference’s giving and to watch the spending of the conference ministry committees and tables.

“Our gracious givers choose every Sunday to give their tithes and offerings to God through their local church. The local church, by paying their apportionments, is affirming the ministry of the annual conference and each local church’s commitment to God’s call,” Stotts said. “Together we are doing ministry larger than the sum of what our 1,132 local churches can do. I give thanks for our gracious givers, our local churches, our denomination and our opportunity to be in the ministry of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of our world.”

CF&A will meet in February to complete the 2010 budget process and look further at the 2009 apportionment receipts and 2009 budget in an effort to continue to do the ministry the annual conference voted to do in the 2008 session in June.