By: Christa Meland
Last year, you helped one church launch, one church expand to a second location, nine churches start one of two key revitalization processes, and 35 churches create new ministries through congregational development grants.
That’s just the beginning of what was made possible through churches’ apportioned giving, which enables life-changing ministry in Minnesota and across the globe.
In 2017, congregations within the state collectively remitted 89.9 percent of the requested apportionments—up from 87.7 percent in 2016 and the highest rate since 2006, when the percentage hit 90.3. About 73 percent of Minnesota churches paid 100 percent of their apportioned amount last year. Apportionments are the share each local church pays to support international, national, and local missions.
“We can do so much more together than we can do alone, and our apportioned giving demonstrates that,” said Barb Brower, the Minnesota Conference’s director of finance and administration, and treasurer. “It is our way of living into John Wesley’s belief that ‘the world is my parish.’ Your commitment truly does help heal a broken world and reach new people for Christ. Thank you to all of the churches that pay 100 percent of their apportioned funds and to those working to increase their giving each year.”
Minnesota Conference apportionments
The Minnesota Conference’s 2017 apportioned budget totaled $6.1 million; the $6.8 million apportioned to churches includes a $725,000 “uncollectible contingency,” the anticipated shortfall in apportionment remittances.
The majority of the funds remitted by Minnesota congregations stay within Minnesota and help fund various Minnesota Conference programs and mission efforts. Some of the things that apportionment dollars fund within the conference are:
• New church starts across the state (in 2017, North Summit Church began worship services—and The Well launched a second campus in Apple Valley)
• Revitalization processes for churches (in 2017, four churches started the Healthy Church Initiative and five started the Missional Church Consultation Initiative; others are engaged in Choosing the Faithful Path)
• Training (through Breakthrough Workshops, Lay Servant Ministries, the Clergy Leadership Academy, and other avenues) for clergy and laity
• The ELI Project, an internship program for college students exploring a call to vocational ministry (in 2017, seven students participated)
• Soul Leaders, a clergy retreat series that expanded last year to include clergy compass groups
• Credentialing, appointments, and supervision for clergy
• Administration of pension and health insurance plans for clergy
• Congregational development grants to support new ministries and outreach efforts
• The conference’s camping ministry and thousands of dollars in camp scholarships given to those who couldn’t otherwise attend camp
• Access to Christian education tools, relevant recommendations, and ecumenical resources from the Resource Center for Churches
• Digital, print, and social media that provide a contact point for Minnesota United Methodists and seekers, and that share stories of the conference’s work and witness in the world
General church apportionments
About 26 percent of funds remitted by local churches goes to the global United Methodist Church to pay for ministry and mission around the world. At the general church level, the money supports bishops, United Methodist ministerial education, most general agencies, and denomination-wide efforts such as the Black College Fund, which supports historically black colleges in the United States, and Africa University in Zimbabwe, the only United Methodist-related, degree-granting University on the continent.
General church apportionments also make it possible for 100 percent of Advance giving (or special gifts—including those to disaster relief projects and other humanitarian efforts) to go to the intended project or ministry.
In 2017, the general church collected 91.4 percent of the amount it requested from annual conferences through apportionments. Minnesota paid close to $1.8 million—representing 100 percent of its apportioned amount. The Minnesota Conference was one of 28 U.S. annual conferences that paid its requested amount in full. Additionally, 2017 marks the first time that central conferences were apportioned, with their apportionments going to two specific funds that support bishops and general administration. Nine annual conferences within three broad central conferences (Africa, Europe, and the Philippines) paid 100 percent of their requested amount.
The majority of the funds Minnesota contributed to the general church came from local church remittances, which were supplemented with about $56,000 in Minnesota Conference reserve funds. After careful evaluation, the Minnesota Council on Finance and Administration determined that there were enough reserves to make up the difference between the general church request and the amount given by local churches, although significantly fewer reserve funds were used this year compared to last year. That’s because of the high remittance rate among churches as well as strong investment returns in 2017, Brower said.
Non-apportioned giving and Love Offering
Minnesota United Methodists have a strong history of faithful giving and last year contributed $1.6 million above and beyond apportionments to various ministries and causes. This mission giving included the conference's Reach • Renew • Rejoice congregational development initiative, General Conference Advance Specials, Minnesota Conference Advance Specials, the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR), Imagine No Malaria, Special Sundays, and the Minnesota Conference Love Offering. Especially notable is the $334,000 that was given to UMCOR U.S. Disaster Response; those funds helped to assist survivors of hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria.
Donations to the 2017 Love Offering, an annual offering that Minnesota churches take annually to support missions, totaled $97,000. The United Methodist University of Sierra Leone School of Applied Health Sciences received 60 percent of that total, Emma Norton Services received 30 percent, and Volunteers in Mission Scholarships received 10 percent.
RELATED RESOURCE: View your church’s 2018 apportionments and recent financial statements
Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church