By Rich Peck*
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) –– Members of the Connectional Table and the General Council on Finance and Administration established principles that will guide preparation of general church apportionment proposals to the 2016 General Conference.
Meeting Nov. 20 in joint session, the two bodies unanimously agreed that the total budget figure for 2017-2020 will be based on financial projections from the Economic Advisory Committee. That committee is made up of eight to 10 economists. In previous years, that committee has proposed high, medium and low figures. This quadrennium only one figure will be considered. That group also will provide the anticipated collection rate from local churches during that four-year period. Past receipts have been about 88 percent of the goal amounts.
In the 2008-12 quadrennium, the apportioned total was $640 million; that amount was lowered to $604 million during this four-year period, which ends in 2016.
A review of the past 20 years of World Service Fund allocations to each of the general agencies found that the percentage amount allotted to each agency has not changed significantly. Therefore the budget arms of the two groups proposed that the baseline percentage for the 2017-2020 period be the same as the present quadrennium.
Percentages may be adjusted based on specific missional outcomes in annual (regional) conferences and local congregations. The Connectional Table is now assessing ministries in the four areas of focus, vital congregations and the worldwide nature of the church.
The two groups also will survey bishops, general agencies and annual conference leaders to receive responses to a proposal whereby conferences would receive a higher total apportionment but be able to retain part of the total. The model would be similar to how the Ministerial Education Fund operates. At present, conferences retain 25 percent of the total receipts to that fund. The proposal’s goal is to provide a holistic view of the cost of ministry outside the walls of a local church.
In April, 2015, the Connectional Table and the United Methodist Council on Finance and Administration will meet to approve programs and budget proposals for the 2016 General Conference, which will have final say on the denomination-wide budget.
The budgeting plan was presented by Pete Aquila, chair of the Connectional Table Finance/Budget Administration Committee, and Charlie Moore, chair of the finance agency’s General Agency/Episcopal Matters Committee.
It should be remembered that only about 2 1/2 cents out of every dollar given to local churches is used to support general church ministries.
*Rich Peck is a retired clergy member of the New York Annual Conference. He lives in Nashville.