By: Christa Meland
Last year, you enabled 12 church starts to reach new people in their communities, supported one new site of an existing church, and walked alongside seven faith communities that started new worship services. You also made it possible for 19 churches to start new ministries with the help of a congregational development grant and for 12 churches to dream bigger through a revitalization process.
That’s only the start of what was accomplished through Minnesota churches’ 2019 apportioned giving.
Celebrating faithful giving
Last year, congregations within the state collectively remitted 83.25 percent of the requested apportionments—down from 88.23 percent in 2018. About 75 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. 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.
“As we navigate this uncertain time within The United Methodist Church, we are especially grateful for churches’ continued commitment to our shared mission through their apportioned giving,” said Barb Brower, the Minnesota Conference’s director of finance and administration, and treasurer. “Together, we are making a difference. It increasingly appears that God is birthing something new within our denomination, and thanks to your generosity, we as an annual conference are in a strong position and ready for whatever is next.”
The Minnesota Conference’s 2019 apportioned budget totaled $6.3 million. In June, members of the 2019 Annual Conference Session approved a flat budget for 2020. Given the likelihood that The United Methodist Church will change in structure after this year’s General Conference, a significant reduction has been planned for the 2021 budget.
Making an impact
The majority of funds remitted by Minnesota congregations stay within Minnesota and support various Minnesota Conference programs and mission efforts. In addition to paying for church-planting and revitalization efforts, apportioned dollars support The ELI Project college internship program and the conference’s lay servant ministries; programs for pastors, such as the Clergy Leadership Academy and Shmita; conference camping and youth ministries; disaster response, Hopeful EarthKeepers, and other programs to heal a broken world; and vital resources for congregations, including the administration of pension and health insurance plans.
About 23 percent of funds remitted by local churches go 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.
In 2019, the general church collected 90 percent of the amount it requested from annual conferences through apportionments. Minnesota paid $1.26 million—representing 77.9 percent of its apportioned amount and reflecting the wishes of some churches that opted to withhold a portion of their general church apportionments following the 2019 General Conference.
“More than anything, we want you to know that we respect and honor the resources we have been given, and we seek to steward them well for the sake of helping every one of our congregations live out our shared calling to grow in love of God and neighbor, reach new people, and heal a broken world,” said Brower.
Non-apportioned giving and Love Offering
Minnesota United Methodists have a strong history of faithful giving and last year contributed $732,604 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.
Donations to the 2019 Love Offering, an offering that Minnesota churches take annually to support missions, totaled $75,532. Lao Samphan Methodist Church in Laos received 60 percent; the Volunteer Lawyers Network, which provides free civil legal services to low-income Minnesotans, received 20 percent; and 20 percent went to Volunteers in Mission scholarships.
Thank you for your commitment and generosity, Minnesota United Methodists!
Christa Meland is director of communications for the Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.
Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church