When the COVID pandemic arrived in earnest last March, none of us had any idea of how it would affect the finances of our personal lives, our employers and businesses, or even our churches. We had many discussions at the Conference level. People were worried, and rightly so.
Thankfully, our congregations stepped up. Apportionment contributions declined, but not by nearly as much as we feared. In 2020, because of the faithfulness of so many, giving at all levels held pretty steady. We also benefited from a strong investment environment and a PPP loan that was fully forgiven by the SBA. God is at work in our midst.
On the expense side, our operating costs decreased as travel and physical office use slowed significantly. Our expenses at many levels are largely a reflection of meeting in person for various activities, and since we started meeting virtually, costs have decreased quite a bit.
All of these factors resulted in the Conference’s undesignated cash reserves being much larger than they have been in many years.
In recognition of the extraordinary work our congregations have done to respond to this pandemic, CF&A voted to cover out of cash reserves one month’s apportionment payment for every church in the Conference in 2021.
Apportionments are local churches pooling their resources to do together what cannot be done separately, just as we give to our local church to do as a group what we cannot do as individuals. As such, your apportionments are an investment in common activity that serves to multiply our abilities to respond to events in the larger world. This includes the recruitment, training, and deployment of qualified pastors as well as large benevolence projects that would not otherwise be possible. I ask, therefore, that you consider this action on the part of CF&A as a dividend on that investment.
Thank you all for your hard work, for your very impressive response to this pandemic, and most importantly for your continued work as we strive to change the world. May God bless each and every one of you as you receive this gift from a grateful Annual Conference.
I want to echo Scott’s words. I am truly honored to work with the generous and faithful people of the Desert Southwest Conference. This faithfulness and generosity resulted in solid 2020 apportionment receipts, down only a little from last year. For the year, our churches contributed 78.7% of their apportionments. As you can see from the detailed report, this was 0.7% (and $166,000) below last year and 7.7% below our average apportionment contributions for the last ten years.
The West district apportionments were up 2.2% from last year, the East district improved 0.9%, the North District declined 2.0%, and the South District was down 7.2%. Our overall apportionment contributions are shown in the following graph:
We appreciate the sacrifices made by all of our churches and congratulate the 59% of them that were able to contribute 100% or more of their apportionments in 2020 (about the same as last year’s 60%).
Remember that apportionments are a way to look and give beyond just ourselves. We hope that all churches are able to continue contributing apportionments as fully as possible in 2021. Thank you all for your commitment; it truly provides the financial stability for our connectional programs to work.