In reverse chronological order, I offer some random musings from the recent Thanksgiving weekend.
- The Generosity Team at Paradise Valley United Methodist Church invited me to speak briefly about apportionments at their 9:30 worship service on November 26th. I was privileged to hear Rev. Dave Summers’ excellent message on civility. “The words we use do matter” rang true for me, especially in today’s environment of frequent political divisiveness. Dave offered one quote from a parishioner that said she had hoped the church could be a model of civil discourse for the rest of the world.
- Earlier that same morning I had called my mom to wish her a happy 81st birthday. She lives alone in a small West Virginia town, so I try to visit her every few months to help her out a bit. Every time I go back there, I notice a series of wooden signs on the main street in town. Signs that say, oddly enough, that the words we use matter. Then each sign offers an example word, like KINDNESS.
- On Thanksgiving Day we celebrated at my son’s and daughter-in-law’s house. There were 16 of us there, but the star was our 18-month-old granddaughter, Riley. Her mom and dad have taught her well, and she is quickly learning the benefits of using words like “please” and “thank you” at an early age. She accepts these words as the normal way to talk.
So maybe these thoughts aren’t so random. Maybe I yearn to embrace words of kindness and hope. Words that can change the world for the better, if not for me then at least for Riley. Maybe we all yearn for this. But maybe it starts with me. So in the spirit of Thanksgiving, let me simply say THANK YOU. Thank you for all of the ways you serve. Thank you for your faithfulness. And thank you for your generosity. Through your words, and your actions, we truly can change lives for the better.
Now for those who want numbers. Our year-to-date apportionment contributions through November are shown in the following graph:
For the first 11 months of 2017, our churches contributed 71.5% of their apportionments. As you can see from the detailed report, this was 0.3% below last year and 2.1% below our average apportionment contributions through November for the last ten years. The South District improved 5.7% from last year, the West District was up 0.9%, the East District was down 1.7%, and the North District declined 6.7%. Six churches have not yet been able to make any apportionment contributions for 2017. Based on results for the first 11 months of this year, we currently project an overall year-end apportionment contribution percentage of about 85%, which could be the lowest in our conference history.
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 apportionments as fully as possible in the last month of 2017. Note that the cutoff for receiving 2017 apportionments in the Conference office will be Friday, January 12, 2018.
Thank you all for your commitment; it truly provides the financial stability for our connectional programs to work.