By Randy Bowman, Conference Treasurer
I want to take a moment to say a simple but very heartfelt thank you to all of the members and churches in our Conference – to all of you. Giving is one of the most significant ways in which we United Methodists can remain connected to each other and to the world at large. Our apportionment system allows all of our contributions to touch not only others in our own congregation, but also to reach out to those in need throughout our conference, our country, and indeed our entire world. And over the years, our members and churches have given in remarkable faith. Did you know that since the Desert Southwest Conference began in 1985, 23 churches in the Conference have faithfully contributed 100% of their apportionments every single year that they or the Conference have existed? Congratulations to:
North District – A Grain of Mustard Seed UMF, Boulder City UMC, Desert Spring UMC, Mohave Valley UMC, Page Community UMC, and Trinity Heights UMC
South District – Bowie UMC, Desert Skies UMC, First UMC of Safford, Patagonia Community Church, and St. Mark’s UMC
East District – First UMC of Tempe, Gold Canyon UMC, St. Matthew UMC, The Fountains, and Velda Rose UMC
West District – City Square UMF, Dove of the Desert UMC, First UMC of Phoenix, Lakeview UMC, Nuevo Pacto UMF, Prescott UMC, and Spirit Song UMF
And many other churches have contributed 100% of their apportionments for all but 1 or 2 years of their Conference history. This deep level of commitment helps to support all of our great connectional ministries. Let’s take a look at some of the ministry that happens when you give to your local church and the church contributes their apportionments to the conference.
- General church apportionments are paid. These are the first and foremost benevolent responsibility of our general church and support the many agencies which serve as resources to each local church and as faithful extensions of the local churches in mission work on national and global levels. For example, they cover the administrative costs of UMCOR so that 100% of contributions to their advance specials go to help victims of disasters. Past examples include recent floods in the US, tsunamis in Asia, AIDS in Africa, and hunger throughout the world.
- New churches are started. Some of our most recent and exciting new congregations include City Square in downtown Phoenix, Nuevo Pacto in Maryvale, Orontes in Scottsdale, and Global Community in Las Vegas, just to name a few.
- Urban ministries programs are funded. These enable us to touch many lives through our support of UMOM, Wesley Community Center, and Justa Center in Phoenix, as well as TMM Family Services in Tucson. With your gifts and apportionment contributions, you are helping to feed, house, and provide hope to those with the greatest need in our communities.
- The poorer churches are helped to pay their clergy so that the church can continue its ministry. These are sometimes rural churches that offer the only Christian worship opportunity for miles around.
- Clergy that given their life in service to the church are assisted in retirement.
- Campus ministries are operated at ASU, U of A, NAU, and UNLV. Stop by some Wednesday night and join 60 or so college students for a meal and discussion of faith and life.
- Seminary students are provided some assistance in their very expensive education. These new young students will be the lifeblood of the church in future years.
- Youth attend summer camps. It is often experiences such as these that become an important part of our spiritual formation and even lead some to feel the call to ministry.
So thank you for making all of this great connectional ministry possible through your apportionment giving. We are grateful for your stewardship, your connectedness, your love.
Now, for those of us interested in the numbers, our year-to-date apportionment contributions through May are shown in the following graph:
For the first 5 months of 2018, our churches contributed 35.2% of their apportionments. As you can see from the detailed report, this was 0.9% above last year and 1.3% above our average apportionment contributions through May for the last ten years. All four of our districts show improvement from last year. At this rate, we project an overall year-end apportionment contribution percentage of 87%-90%.
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 7 months of 2018.
Thank you all for your commitment; it truly provides the financial stability for our connectional programs to work.