One of the methods the founder of Methodism, John Wesley, used in his creation of the people called Methodists was regular accountability on performance objectives. Wesley asked his itinerating preachers to report on how they were doing. This might include how class meetings were going, how their time had been spent, and, generally through numbers, communicating their effectiveness in being a light to the world.
Times have changed in how we accomplish that reporting, but it is part of who we are: open to accountability. Mountain Sky is one of the Conferences in the United Methodist Church that uses a web-based software package called EZRA to capture, refine and report this year-end statement on accountability reporting.
The reporting year starts on January 1st and ends on December 31st and thus dovetails in most cases with the calendar year. I will get to a clear exception on this later in this article.
In a few weeks, our final report to the United Methodist Church must be made. We are in the process of quality checking the data turned in so far and getting it ready for this final submission. You can still check your church year-end statistics. If unsure of how to do look, send us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we can help you get in.
If possible, please get this request to us by June 11th. We want to submit our Conference statistics one last time by June 30th.
We are totally mindful that 2020 was an unusual year, a year we probably expect to potentially have once every hundred years. We know that worship and discipleship numbers are going to be unusual, maybe even a little odd. “Be not anxious” about this. Much of our review of what has been turned in to date has focused on the economics and the vitality of the local churches in that realm.
This has been an interesting year. Congregational giving, as you would expect, was down, but much less than expected. The Conference average was down 6.5% which given where we thought we would see this metric, during the last year is impressive. When we add into the congregational giving about $4 million dollars in Paycheck Protection Program funding reported, many churches experienced no change and some, a modest increase.
On the other hand, over thirty churches (out of our over 370) did not report. For some, the pandemic put them into a special status of temporarily closed.
We indicated earlier about the reporting year coinciding with the calendar year. The exception to that was the Mission Share – our name for Apportionment to the Conference (in 2020). Mission Shares is the term we use to show support to the Mountain Sky Conference. The year-end statistics shown in EZRA are for what was sent to the Conference from February 1st to January 31st. This reinforces the nature of the Mission Share as a function of church income in selected accounts for the calendar year. We did allow some payment of the General and Jurisdictional Apportionment into January, but we had to pay that to the General church by mid-January, so we had to cut that off at some point before January 31st. For 2021, unless you make a specific request otherwise, your two apportionments, General & Jurisdictional along with Mission Shares, are calculated and paid together, not separately. If you have questions here, send us a note, again, HERE.
Once we are finished with the quality control elements of dealing with obvious typographical errors, for example, one church reported their salary for their pastor was over $430,000, we will start to use this monthly space to make some reports on how we did.
A question we plan to ask this summer is: did you like getting to keep your user ID and password from prior years? That was an experiment this year. Look for us to be asking that question via several means.
Share this link with those in your church who help with the collection of year-end statistics and encourage them to get registered to get his newsletter automatically.
This past year was my final year as the Conference Statistician. I took over these duties for legacy Rocky Mountain in 2008 and it is time for me to place this responsibility on the altar of retirement. I plan to still be involved in the analytical side of statistics but not the reporting. Thank you to all who have supported me in this ministry these past twelve plus years. So many of you have been special in your support and diligence in getting this accountability statement properly rendered. Again, thank you.
June 1st, 2021
Grace and Peace,
Dennis Shaw and Julie Gladney
Mountain Sky Annual Conference