SC Annual Conference celebrates best year in more than a decade

Conference Treasurer Beth Westbury celebrated a great achievement this year, calling it "an amazing time to be a part of the South Carolina Conference."

"Our churches have demonstrated their commitment to the connectional ministries of our church in so many ways, including financial stewardship," Westbury said. "I believe we have the momentum to continue this positive direction in our ministry and to stretch for even greater achievements."

United Methodist financial leaders are cheering after closing the conference's best year in more than a decade—even after a devastating flood that racked up billions of dollars in damage statewide.

South Carolina United Methodist churches paid 91.1 percent of their apportionments for 2015, almost 2 percent higher than the 89.4 percent paid in 2014 and the first time the conference has achieved over the 90 percent mark since 2002.

The treasurer's office said the good news does not stop there. Records show 792 churches paid 100 percent of their apportionments in 2015, which is an improvement over 2014's count of 768.

Westbury lifted up the Rev. Thomas Pearson and his Walterboro District for achieving 100 percent and praised the Rev. George Howle and his Greenville District for the largest dollar increase over the prior year ($150,374) and largest percentage increase over the prior year (7.49 percent).

David Surrett, chair of the Conference Council on Finance and Administration, extends strong thanks to churches, individuals and anyone else who made the strong performance possible.

"The CF&A is most excited to receive the news that again the South Carolina conference congregations have given at new record numbers," Surrett said. "We commend the leadership of our Annual Conference. Certainly God is guiding and encouraging all of us toward greater and greater generosity."

The Rev. Kathy James, director of Connectional Ministries for the conference, said the increase in giving is most exciting because of what it means on a deeper level.

"The strength of The United Methodist Church is in our connection, because we are able to do more together than we could on our own," James said. "Our connectional giving to our apportionments is the clearest example of that. It's exciting to me when we're doing well with that because it means United Methodists in South Carolina understand the opportunity we have to make a difference in the world."

Westbury said she continues to be impressed with the response to not only the apportionment giving, but to all areas of giving.

"Our churches have responded with financial gifts for flood victims, Emanuel AME in Charleston, Imagine No Malaria, Stop Hunger Now and many other organizations and causes that we, as United Methodists, support," Westbury said. "I am thankful to be a part of this state's conference."

Jessica Brodie, editor, South Carolina United Methodist Advocate newspaper

One of seven apportioned giving opportunities of The United Methodist Church, the World Service Fund is the financial lifeline to a long list of Christian mission and ministry throughout the denomination. Please encourage your leaders and congregations to support the World Service Fund apportionment at 100 percent.