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Clarifying the strategic shift in General and Jurisdictional Apportionment: Council on Finance and Administration

July 06, 2020
Submitted by C. Dennis Shaw
Conference Statistician and a Member of the Conference Council on Finance and Administration (CF&A)


The purpose of changing how we financially support the global church was to empower local churches in their choices consistent with their values. In 2019, at the Annual Conference in Billings, MT, the Mountain Sky Conference transformed the way we budgeted for the connection. 

We retained the income-based model approved at Ogden, Utah in 2018 to support the Conference itself but lowered the percentage against Adjusted Gross Revenue from 13% to 10%. This change took place on February 1, 2020.
 
Correspondingly, we isolated the apportionment used to support the General and Jurisdictional Church. This article is about that portion of our connectional giving.

The Petition presented at Annual Conference is HERE; a clear purpose of this change was to give the local church authority in deciding where their values were and how best to support those values. There are seven General Funds and one Jurisdictional Fund. An article on these funds is HERE. These funds need to be addressed by the local church by December 31 in order to allow the Conference time to get the funds to Nashville before the early January cut-off.

The goal of this strategic shift was to empower those who wanted local church voice in matching their values with their support. Instead of the Conference Council on Finance and Administration (CF&A) making the choices, the local church would have the option to decide for themselves. The choice was important, and we listened.

It was not our intent for the local churches to see the General and Jurisdictional support as “at will.” The change was driven by feedback and analysis of what was happening in the payments by the local church of the conference budget, which included General and Jurisdictional funds.

Last year, when we only paid 80% of the General and Jurisdictional Apportionment, we paid Black College Fund, Africa University, Methodist Education, Western Jurisdiction, and the Episcopal Funds at 100%. It was and is our plan to allocate to conference priorities from those funds that are not designated by the local church. Said another way: when the local church specifies where it wants the funds to go, that will be honored 100% of the time; when it leaves the choice to the Conference, we will make the decisions as we have done in the past.

I have heard a few times that money is given locally or passed through the church to other charities count towards the General and Jurisdictional Apportionment. That is not correct. We will “count” what is sent in periodically through the Conference payment portal used for all payments to the Conference, i.e. Clergy Benefits, Mission Shares, Special Sunday Offerings (to include UMCOR both as a special Sunday and as a Conference pass through), etc. (UMCOR is not supported by apportionments, rather, direct giving.)

We reduced the income-based Mission Share by 3%. The General and Jurisdictional Apportionment will be in the range of 3%, but it is calculated on expenses, not income. The relevant expenses are Cost of Clergy, Cost of Other Staff, Operations and Programs. All benevolences (paid to the conference or otherwise), Debt Retirement, and Capital Expenses are ‘free’ from the apportionment model. Note: I pointed out in 2019 that churches with a significant amount of spending that is not congregational giving will be greater than 3% in their “fair share.” This PDF shows 2020 with funds broken out (in District/Local Church order).

At this time, we have collected less than $150,000 towards the $2,000,000+ apportionment. Only 25% of all churches in the Conference have participated in this through the end of May. We encourage you to ask your financial leaders: “where do we stand on this?” and “why are we lagging here?”

When we display in our year-end statistics the apportionment paid, that number will include both what was paid to the conference in Mission Shares (income-based model) and what was paid to support the General and Jurisdictional Church.

Our August Responsible Stewardship Webinar, which will be held on August 11, will address in part, the General and Jurisdictional Apportionment. We hope to see you there!

Dennis Shaw email is revdennisshaw@gmail.com or text him at 801-889-7013.