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General Secretaries Call for Reducing Budget

General Secretaries Table

For Immediate Release
March 15, 2016

Proposed Change Would Reduce Proposed 2017-2020 General Church Budget from $611 million to $599 million

NASHVILLE — Taking note of the ministries, challenges, and careful stewardship of congregations and annual conferences, along with global economic uncertainty and trends in church attendance in the United States, the general secretaries (chief executives) of the general boards and commissions of The United Methodist Church have called for a $12 million reduction of the denomination’s general budget for the next four years (quadrennium).

The proposal was unanimously endorsed at their March 14 meeting in Nashville. It would reduce the projected apportioned budget for 2017–2020 from $611 million to $599 million. Adoption of the plan would set the percentage for the general apportioned funds that are based on local church net expenditures (World Service, General Administration, Episcopal, Black College, Africa University, Interdenominational Cooperation, Ministerial Education) at 3.2660%. The World Service and General Administration Funds support ten of the agencies that receive general church funds.

The formula would roll back the general church apportionments to the lowest percentage since the current apportionment formula was introduced in 2001 and represents a $4.1 million cut from the budget General Conference adopted for the current quadrennium. $599 million would also be the lowest apportioned general church budget in 16 years.

The proposal comes after the general secretaries carefully reviewed the deliberations of the General Council on Finance and Administration (GCFA) and the Connectional Table (CT), both of which met in late February 2016 to review forecasts from the Economic Advisory Committee (EAC) that had revised and lowered earlier estimates of future church giving. GCFA and CT voted to adopt the revised forecasts from the EAC but kept faith with earlier commitments and proposed $611 million as the budget for all general church apportionments starting in 2017. The general secretaries expressed their appreciation for the commitment of GCFA and the CT in supporting the ministries made possible through all of the general funds and the work of the agencies in assertively promoting the global mission of The United Methodist Church.

Pledging to continue and further expand efforts to assure agency effectiveness and rigorous efficiencies, the general secretaries acknowledged that even $611 million would be insufficient to address the UMC’s general church goals, and the missions assigned to the general agencies that support them. A reduction to $599 million will impose hardships and require reworking ministry plans. But with appreciation for the creative strategies undertaken by annual conferences and congregations, and in accord with church-wide efforts to reach and serve more people in more places, they agreed that reducing the base rate percentage used to determine annual conference apportionments is timely and appropriate.

“As local churches and annual conferences continue to cut budgets or hold them flat, we believe that all of the general funds must adjust as we stand in solidarity with United Methodists across the connection,” said Gil Hanke, General Secretary of the General Commission on United Methodist Men and convener of the General Secretaries Table.

“We are one body, and the strength and health of every part of the church is vitally important for making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world,” said Erin Hawkins, General Secretary of the General Commission on Religion and Race. “Leaders in every part of the body should be proactive and mindful of each other. Today’s action demonstrates our commitment to attend to the whole of our mission as we bear witness locally and globally,” she said. 

In making their recommendation, the general secretaries support the call from GCFA and CT for retaining current proportional allocations of the seven apportioned funds, and in particular the World Service Fund, for the work assigned to the agencies receiving general church funds. 

The general secretaries endorsed the following projected apportionments for 2017-2020 :

The members of General Secretaries Table:
General Board of Church and Society – Susan Henry-Crowe
General Board of Discipleship – MaryJane Pierce Norton (interim)
General Board of Global Ministries – Thomas G. Kemper
General Board of Higher Education & Ministry – Kim Cape
General Board of Pension & Health Benefits – Barbara Boigegrain
General Council on Finance & Administration – Moses Kumar
General Commission on Archives & History – Alfred T. Day III
General Commission on Communications – Dan Krause
General Commission on Status and Role of Women – Dawn Wiggins Hare
General Commission on Religion & Race – Erin Hawkins
General Commission on United Methodist Men – Gilbert C. Hanke
United Methodist Women – Harriett J. Olson
United Methodist Publishing House – Neil M. Alexander


For more information, contact:
Gilbert C. Hanke
General Commission on United Methodist Men
1000 17th Ave S
Nashville, TN 37212
(615) 620-7267