Financial witness beyond local church presents mixed message - Council on Finance & Administration (CF&A)

July 20, 2020
Submitted by C. Dennis Shaw
Conference Statistician and a Member of the Conference Council on Finance and Administration (CF&A)

We are halfway through both the General and Conference Fiscal Years. Our performance in this period of a pandemic is mixed. 

Figure 1 shows how we are doing through the end of June and compares it with our first two years as a new Conference. 

The blue column represents 2018. The red is 2019. Green is our goal. Yellow is this year. At 50% of the year point in 2018, we were at 50% of budget, and finished the year at 94.1%. Last year at the same point, we were at 46.9% of the budget and finished the year at 88.1%. Most of us believe the marked down-turn was a direct result of General Conference 2019 in St. Louis.  
Figure 1 -- Mountain Sky Mission Shares

In a pre-COVID-19 “offering plate” world, income usually lags in the church for June-August. Will it in this newer, more digital world? This remains to be seen, we simply do not know. 

About 100 Mountain Sky Churches have paid no Mission Shares for 2020. Last year, for all of 2019, a little over 50 Churches paid no Mission Shares. The previous high over the last ten years was 33 in 2017. There is a wide theological spectrum and sizes in the 50+ who shared nothing to the Connectional Missions in 2019.

Within United Methodism, the incarnational element of our witness is local, regional, and global. 

As a direct result of General Conference 2019 and stated desires of multiple local churches to be more in charge of their witness globally, we listened and transformed the way we funded the Conference and the General Church. 

The Conference is funded by the income-based model Legacy Rocky Mountain used from 2008. The rate of 13% used by Legacy Rocky Mountain and adopted by the new Conference from 2009 to 2019 was in part driven by underpayment by local churches. We were apportioning in the range of 120% of the budget to achieve 100%. 

The payment rate to achieve 94% of the budget for 2018 was 78% of what was apportioned. In 2019, 88% of the budget was achieved through a 73% payment rate by local churches. 

The transformation in the Conference support in Mission Shares was not in process but in target: our ask is now 10% of Adjusted Gross Revenue. The year for local church payment on Mission Shares is from Feb. 1 to Jan. 31. 

We paid 100% of our General and Jurisdictional obligation as a new conference in 2018 despite a 78% payment rate. 

Payment from designated accounts from earlier years generosity made this possible. In 2019, we paid 80% as a direct result of a 73% payment rate by local churches. We made minimal payments post-General Conference 2019 and paid in January 2020 what we could, not using designated accounts, keeping us in the black for the year. As I have noted in other articles, we paid Episcopal, Black College, Africa University, Ministerial Education, and Western Jurisdiction Funds at 100%. Supporting through designated accounts was not an option in January 2020. In multiple previous years, that option had been exercised, at least by Legacy Rocky Mountain. 

Figure 2 shows the dollar amounts for the Conference on the General and Jurisdictional Funds. Figure 3 shows where we are at the 50% point of the year. (Note: these funds are paid in a January to December year, as we must pay them early in 2021. Mission Shares for the Conference are treated as completed at the end of January, as the church year is the basis for Mission Share payments.)

 You can read a recent article I wrote on Mission Share payments here.  We plan to circulate over the next several weeks' articles on most of the General Funds to better explain their purpose. Those who want to anticipate those articles and see the primary source for our work may at the UMC Budget: Apportioned Funds website
Figure 2 -- 2020 General and Jurisdictional Funds
An option before us is to potentially designate selected Months as Extra Mile Giving opportunities for these funds. Again, we will have several articles on these funds starting next week in the Conference Tuesday eNews. 
Figure 3 displays we are at 10.2% of our apportionment at the 50% point in the year. Church guidance on how they want the funds paid will be honored in all cases. Those funds not specified but paid to the “pool” will be allocated by the Conference Council on Finance and Administration, probably in January 2021. 
Figure 3 -- Payments at Mid-Year Point on General and Jurisdictional Funds

Here are those churches, by name, who are on the glide path to be Platinum Ministry Partner Churches, 100% payers to both the Mission Share (Conference),and General Funds for the year. Thank you, thank you so very much! 

Next month when we show the Platinum Ministry Partners, those at 58.3% of General Funds, without regard to how allocated, and 10% of Adjusted Gross Revenue will be displayed. Each month we will show the 10% Mission Share and the General Fund at that point in the year, increasing monthly by 8.3%.

Thank you to these churches for their faithful witness to this element of our incarnational mission.

A list of Financial articles published by the Council on Finance and Administration, the Foundation, and other sources is available HERE

Your thoughts on this article would be most welcome. My email is and my cell (texting first please) is 801-889-7013. 
Dennis Shaw is a retired Mountain Sky Elder still serving the Conference as Statistician and a member of the Council on Finance and Administration.