Our apportionment contributions do many great things. One important, but often overlooked, value is the peace of mind they provide for our clergy through programs that support their financial, physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being. The programs provided to our clergy through Wespath Benefits & Investments include health insurance, life insurance, disability insurance, retirement benefits, wellness initiatives, and many others. These programs may not seem like they are at the forefront of ministry, but without them undergirding our clergy much of what we accomplish may not get done.
Imagine working your whole life and still not having enough money to survive on in retirement. Imagine becoming disabled and not having enough income for your family to pay your bills. Imagine dying and your spouse losing not only you but all of the benefits your work provided. Imagine feeling alone and unsupported in your work and your life. Fortunately, because of Wespath, you don’t have to worry about such imaginings. Wespath is there for us, day in and day out, often behind the scenes, being another great example of our connectional system at work.
I got to witness this up close and personal this past month as Wespath held a nation-wide Clergy Benefits Academy in Tempe, Arizona. We had a great turnout, with 31 clergy and 9 lay persons from our Conference in attendance. The excellent training sessions provided in-depth reviews of pension benefits, clergy taxes, financial planning, psychological aspects of money management, personal retirement savings, Social Security, death and disability benefits, estate planning, and healthy living. I think all of us in attendance recognized that Wespath is taking good care of us so that we can focus our energy on important ministries and not worry about retirement and health benefits.
So, I want to encourage all clergy to consider attending a future Benefits Academy at some time in your career. And I want to say a big thank you to Wespath for providing outstanding service for over 100,000 participants across the denomination. Be proud of your apportionment support for them and all of the connectional boards and agencies of The United Methodist Church.
These stories, the lives supported, and the lives changed are what is important. But for those who want numbers, our year-to-date apportionment contributions through August are shown in the following graph:
For the first 8 months of 2017, our churches contributed 52.9% of their apportionments. As you can see from the detailed report, this was 0.3% above last year but 0.2% below our average apportionment contributions through August for the last ten years. The South and West districts show improvement from last year, the East District is about the same, and the North District is down. 10 churches have not yet been able to make any apportionment contributions for 2017. Based on results for the first 8 months of this year, we currently project an overall year-end apportionment contribution percentage of 85%-87%. Click here to find the reports by month.
Remember that apportionments are a way to look beyond just ourselves. Please do all that you can to help our churches and our ministries continue to change lives by contributing to apportionments as fully as possible in the last 4 months of 2017.
Thank you all for your commitment; it truly provides the financial stability for our connectional programs to work.