With a possible denominational split on the horizon, the task of preparing The United Methodist Church’s budget for the next four years comes with far more uncertainty than usual.
During a Feb. 21 online meeting, the General Council on Finance and Administration board discussed some of the what if’s that could affect the church’s financial future.
Your support of The World Service Fund apportionment supports program-related general agencies, which are especially important to the common vision, mission, and ministry of The United Methodist Church.
Those include the impact of the proposed Protocol of Reconciliation & Grace through Separation and other possible splits.
The finance agency board also raised questions about what the proposed addition of five new bishops in Africa means for the already imperiled funding for the Episcopal Fund that supports the denomination’s bishops.
The agency has prepared the general church budget proposal that will go before General Conference, which has been rescheduled for 2021. The denomination’s international lawmaking body will have final say on any possible plan of separation as well as the 2021-2024 budget for denomination-wide ministries.
One thing the GCFA board and staff cannot answer at this point is just how many churches and members will leave if a plan of separation passes.
Even if no separation plan passes, church leaders expect lean times ahead. Already in 2019, the highly polarized denomination experienced nearly an 8 percent drop in general-church support compared with 2018.
General Conference delegates typically take up the budget the last day of the 10-day meeting. The assembly establishes the total amount of money needed to support churchwide ministries over four years.
Delegates are asked to approve the base percentage rate used in calculating apportionments. Each U.S. conference’s apportionments are determined by multiplying the base percentage rate by its local church expenditures.
Even before legislation to split the church was drafted, GCFA had already planned to submit to General Conference a $493.8 million budget — an 18.3% reduction of the current budget and the smallest in more than 20 years. GCFA planned the reduction in hopes of keeping more funds in local churches.
“A major separation has significant consequences going forward,” he said.
excerpt from a story by Heather Hahn, multimedia news reporter, UMNS
The World Service Fund provides basic financial support to program-related general agencies, which are especially important to the common vision, mission, and ministry of The United Methodist Church. Through World Service funding, agencies support annual conferences and local congregations in living out God’s mission for the worldwide Church. General agencies also provide essential services and ministries beyond the scope of individual local congregations and annual conferences through services and ministries that are highly focused, flexible, and capable of rapid response.