For the seventh time in the past eight months, September apportionment receipts declined. For the first 9 months of 2019, our churches contributed 55.4% of their apportionments. As you can see from the detailed report, this was 4.4% (and $374,000) below last year and 3.9% below our average apportionment contributions through September for the last ten years. At this rate, we project an overall year-end apportionment contribution percentage of 79%-81%. This will be the worst apportionment year by far in our Conference’s history.
The West district apportionments were down 0.2% from last year, the East district declined 4.6%, the South District declined 6.4%, and the North District was down 10.0%. Our overall year-to-date apportionment contributions through 9/30/19 are shown in the following graph:
Based on the low projection for 2019 apportionment receipts, the Desert Southwest Conference Council on Finance & Administration (CFA) recently implemented various spending reductions in the Conference budget based on input received from the Extended Cabinet. As communicated last month, CFA adopted the following spending reductions:
- Pay general church apportionments at the 80% level we expect to receive rather than at 100%.
- Use designated funds, rather than apportionments, to pay for a portion of costs for New Faith Communities and Pension & Health Benefits.
- Reduce funding for Equitable Compensation subsidies by 30% starting 1/1/20.
- Reduce funding for Claremont School of Theology and Arizona Faith Network by 25% per year starting 11/1/19.
- Reduce funding for relatively inactive Conference committees to current low spending levels.
- Don’t fill any new staff positions or any positions that come open through retirement or attrition.
CFA and the Extended Cabinet will continue to work collaboratively to monitor apportionment receipts and spending very closely over the last three months of 2019, throughout 2020, and beyond. If necessary, further spending reductions will be implemented. Those could include reductions in ministry subsidies (such as urban ministries, campus ministries, etc.), a combination of staff positions, and/or reduced hours or benefits.
The current financial decline, as far as we have been able to determine, is based on the financial challenges faced by many of our churches due to the long, gradual decline that the UMC has been experiencing for many years. It has not yet been significantly affected by the turmoil in the denomination based on the human sexuality issue. The impact of that issue on our denomination could certainly accelerate future financial challenges, but that is beyond CFA’s ability to forecast right now.
In the meantime, let’s continue to remind ourselves that apportionments are a way to look beyond our own community. They are a way to connectionally reach our brothers and sisters throughout the world. Let’s do all that we can to help our churches and our ministries continue to change lives by contributing apportionments as fully as possible in the last three months of 2019. Thank you for your commitment; it provides financial stability for our connectional programs to work.
To find the detailed report, visit https://dscumc.org/apportionments.