March Apportionments: Hope for Ministry Together
These are certainly uncertain times. Politically, socially, denominationally, economically – what are we called to do? As we contemplate the impact of the recent special general conference session, some question how and why we should continue our support of the general church. Are we still a connectional church? Can we still do great ministry together? Are we still brothers and sisters in Christ? For me, the answer to all of these questions is a resounding YES! And for me, a major reason for my YES answer is our apportionment system. Let’s look at some numbers:
For every apportionment dollar contributed by one of our churches in the Desert Southwest Conference, 82 cents stay in the conference to support our ministries and 18 cents are for general church apportionments.
The 82 cents used for conference ministries allows us to do many great things together:
- 30,000 people are resourced as we use 2 cents to provide training and resources to churches and members throughout our conference to support transformative discipleship and church revitalization efforts.
- 3,000 people participate in a camping or retreat ministry in 2018. Over 4 cents of each apportionment dollars supports camping and outdoor ministries that offer potentially life-changing experiences in beautiful natural settings. It is experiences such as these that can become important parts of our spiritual formation and call to ministry.
- 16 New Faith Communities are sharing the light of Christ in the world and offering new models for vital ministry to the denomination. Without the 8 cents from each apportionment dollar, these new communities would not exist.
- Ministry to and with thousands of people are made possible by our support of UMOM, Wesley Community Center, and Justa Center in Phoenix and TMM Family Services in Tucson. Each time you contribute your apportionment dollar, you are providing 4 cents to help feed, house, and provide hope to those with the greatest need in our communities.
- 23 churches rely on your apportionment support to continue their ministry through equitable compensation grants. These are sometimes rural churches that offer the only
Christian worship opportunity for miles around, sometimes urban churches that fulfill a vital mission component in their communities. Over 4 cents of each apportionment dollar provide these grants.
- The next generation of Christian Leadership through another 1 cent of support to seminaries such as the School of Theology at Claremont.
- Campus Ministries serving 6 Universities and Community Colleges are supported by over 4 cents of each apportionment dollar. These include campus ministries at Arizona State University and the University of Arizona, as well as the ecumenical campus ministries at Northern Arizona University and the University of Nevada at Las Vegas. The future of our denomination and society depend on the quality of education of succeeding generations, and this is our effort to make sure that we are successful with this education.
These are just some of the great ministries we accomplish as we work together as a conference with the 82 cents of our apportionment dollar. Other significant areas of support include 15 cents for our district superintendency structure, 12 cents for pension and health benefits for our active and retired clergy, 5 cents for communications, and 7 cents for connectional and outreach ministries.
What about the 18 cents of general church apportionments? What does that actually fund? Whose ministry does that support? Again, I can answer strongly that we accomplish great ministry with this 18 cents as we work together with our brothers and sisters across the globe:
- 9 cents goes to the World Service Fund.
- 3 cents of that World Service Fund support goes to the General Board of Global Ministries – providing missionaries, hospitals, orphanages, and UMCOR disaster relief across the world, just to name a few ministries.
- 2 cents helps United Methodist Communications provide the resources necessary to help spread the message of God’s love to all.
- 4 cents funds general boards and commissions such as Discipleship, Higher Education and Ministry, Church and Society, Religion and Race, Status and Role of Women, United Methodist Men, and others.
- 3 cents goes to the Ministerial Education Fund. This general church fund enables our churches to unify and expand financial support for the recruitment and education of our future church leaders, pastors, and bishops. And 25% of that fund stays in our conference to help us meet the increased needs of the clergy in our conference, including vital continuing education and spiritual formation efforts.
- 3 cents goes to the Episcopal Fund. This supports all active and retired bishops in our denomination. Efforts are underway to try and reduce the costs of this fund, but there is no doubt that effective episcopal leadership is absolutely critical at this point in our denomination.
- The remaining 3 cents supports the other four general church funds, including the Black College Fund and Africa University. Yes, there is funding for general conference and GCFA (the financial and administrative arm of our denomination), but those total only about 1 cent of every apportionment dollar that our churches contribute.
So what would you not fund? For me, the answer is nothing. I cannot think of one thing I am not happy to support with every apportionment dollar I contribute. I may have some differences of opinion with some of my brothers and sisters on many different topics, but they are still my brothers and sisters. My brothers and sisters with whom I am called to continue doing great ministry in our world today.
Now for the March apportionment numbers. Our year-to-date apportionment contributions through 3/31/19 are shown in the following graph:
March’s apportionment receipts declined. For the first 3 months of 2019, our churches contributed 19.1% of their apportionments. As you can see from the detailed report, this was 1.0% below last year and 0.4% below our average apportionment contributions through March for the last ten years. At this rate, we project an overall year-end apportionment contribution percentage of about 81%-85%.
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 9 months of 2019.
Thanks again for your commitment; it truly provides the financial stability for our connectional programs to work.
Randy Bowman, Conference Treasurer