By: Christa Meland
Even during this exceptionally challenging year, Minnesota United Methodist churches’ commitment to connectional giving has remained strong.
As of Nov. 30, their total amount remitted to the Minnesota Conference through apportioned giving totaled $4.31 million—approximately 61.2 percent of the 2020 apportioned budget and down just 1.8 percent from last year at the same time. (Historically, a large percentage of apportionments are remitted in December.)
Apportionments are the share each local church pays to support international, national, and local missions. The amount of money each congregation is asked to pay is determined by a formula that is based 15 percent on each congregation’s number of members and 85 percent on each congregation’s expenditures.
“In this most difficult year, there are no words to adequately convey our appreciation for churches’ commitment to our shared mission and ministry through their apportioned giving,” said Barb Brower, the Minnesota Conference’s director of finance and administration, and treasurer. “More than anything, we want you to know that we are stewarding funds exceptionally carefully, particularly given the difficulties brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and given our changing denominational landscape, and we hope and expect to be able to finish the year strong in partnership with our churches and thanks to their amazing generosity.”
The conference instituted a freeze on non-essential spending for much of the year and received a (recently forgiven) Paycheck Protection Program loan that enabled it to maintain cash flow toward the beginning of the pandemic when apportioned giving was down. These interventions, along with churches’ gifts, enabled the continued funding of new church starts, revitalization processes, The ELI Project college internship program, learning and development programs for clergy such as the Clergy Leadership Academy and Shmita, disaster response, and other vital ministries. Apportioned giving also enabled us to provide a wide variety of COVID-19 resources to churches and to be able to respond to the killing of George Floyd and the pandemic of racism by applying for and receiving a community aid grant, creating a video series, and coordinating a “Just Love” special appeal.
Many churches have held steadfast in their commitment to give 100 percent of their apportionments—one of which is Northfield UMC.
“Northfield has long known the strength of our ministry is in our connection,” said Rev. Rachel McIver Morey, who serves the congregation. “We have longtime leaders of NOMADS, folks who have been on multiple service trips to [the United Methodist Committee on Relief’s] Sager Brown and the Midwest Mission Distribution Center, and we served as a flood bucket collection site during the 2018 hurricane season. When we took a prayerful look at our finances and the continued amazing generosity of our church, we knew that the pandemic would transform ministry for us all—and our apportionments will be part of the bridge that gets us all to the other side.”
Rev. Michelle Hargrave, who serves Centenary UMC in Mankato, echoed that sentiment.
Her congregation’s giving has decreased somewhat during the pandemic, but so have expenses. Centenary has paid 100 percent of apportionments for as long as the conference has been tracking it, and members are proud of that.
“I think Centenary has always felt that there’s strength in being together as a conference,” said Hargrave. “We have always imagined ourselves as leaders in our district and Centenary is passionate about the mission and vision of the conference, so it’s important to do our part. ”
Her congregation is excited about the aspirational vision that the Minnesota Conference adopted at the 2019 Annual Conference and is committed to helping to bring it to fruition. “We want to partner with God in what’s going on here,” she said.
Each year, Minnesota United Methodists give above and beyond apportionments to various ministries and causes. So far this year, $48,785 has been given to the 2020 Love Offering and $42,040 has been given to the “Just Love” special appeal, which enables partnerships with our congregations to support ministries of mercy (crisis counseling, housing stability, food/medicine) and ministries of racial justice (education, advocacy, intervention) following the death of George Floyd.
The Minnesota Conference’s 2020 apportioned budget totals $6.3 million. At the 2020 Annual Conference in August, members approved a 2021 apportioned budget totaling $5,629,157—representing an 11 percent reduction from this year’s budget.
Thank you for your commitment and generosity, Minnesota United Methodists! We are grateful for you.
Christa Meland is director of communications for the Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.
Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church