After record giving, mixed news in 2018

Translate Page

For four consecutive years, The United Methodist Church kept breaking records in the number of U.S. conferences that paid full apportionments.

That trend came to a halt in 2018.

However, in its annual press release on church giving, the denomination’s General Council on Finance and Administration on Jan. 24 offered some decidedly mixed news.

This past year, 26 U.S. annual conferences paid 100 percent of requested giving to support general church ministries. That is down from 29 conferences in 2017 and 27 in 2016.

Across the oceans, eight central conference episcopal areas — most of which contain multiple annual conferences — paid at least 100 percent apportionments. That is down from nine areas in 2017, the first year the finance agency reported giving from the central conferences — church regions in Africa, Europe and the Philippines.

All told, the overall payout rate of requested giving was down 1.8 percent from what the finance agency tallied the previous year.

But the overall dollar amount was slightly up by $19,473, compared to 2017 when the general church received about $133.2 million in apportionments. Thirty-five of 56 U.S. conferences actually paid more in 2018 than in 2017.

The dollar amount of requested giving fluctuates from year to year, hence the variation.

“It is not always easy for an annual conference to pay its general church apportionment,” said Bishop Michael McKee, president of the finance agency’s board. He also leads the North Texas Conference.

“We appreciate the hard work of each annual conference and episcopal area that contributed to the church reaching the 90 percent collection rate for all apportioned funds. God be praised in our ministry together.”

The report comes a month before a special General Conference meant to deal with the potentially church-splintering dispute over how the denomination regards homosexuality.

But it is unclear if the giving totals reflect the uncertainty ahead of the special session of the denomination’s top lawmaking body.

Paid in full

The 26 U.S. annual conferences that paid 100 percent apportionments in 2018 are: Alaska, Baltimore-Washington, California-Nevada, Desert Southwest, East Ohio, Greater New Jersey, Illinois Great Rivers, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, New England, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma Indian Missionary, Oregon-Idaho, Pacific Northwest, Peninsula-Delaware, Red Bird Missionary, Rocky Mountain, Susquehanna, Tennessee, Upper New York, West Virginia, Western Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Yellowstone. 

The eight episcopal areas in the central conferences that paid 100 percent are: Central and Southern Europe, East Congo, Eastern Angola, Eurasia, Germany, Liberia, Nordic-Baltic areas and the Davao area in the Philippines. Those episcopal areas encompass 29 of the 80 annual conferences in Africa, Europe and the Philippines. 

Apportionments are the share each conference or local church pays to support international, national and regional missions. Some conferences call the offering “ministry shares” to emphasize that the funds are investments in what the church does both at the local and global levels.

General Conference sets the formula for requested apportionments from annual conferences and annual conferences in turn set the apportionment formula for their local churches.

General church apportionments support bishops, ministerial education, most general agencies, general administration, and denomination-wide efforts such as the Black College Fund, ecumenical work and Africa University in Zimbabwe.

In 2018, the Africa University Fund had a 93 percent collection rate — the highest among the seven general-church apportioned funds.

In their 2019 spending plans, most agencies budgeted with the expectation of a payout rate below 90 percent.

The General Council on Finance and Administration board has plans already in the works to reduce requested church giving by about 20 percent, starting in 2021. Agencies and other church organizations are determining now what these budget cuts could mean for their ministries.

In the meantime, finance agency leaders see current giving as an indication of United Methodists’ great generosity and their commitment to ministry that connects congregations around the globe to ministry they can’t do alone.

“The general church apportionments are our message that the United Methodist connectional system is a viable way to be in ministry around the world,” said Moses Kumar, top executive of the General Council on Finance and Administration.

“We praise God for the faithfulness of this commitment. For the past seven years — since 2012 — we’ve been at or over a 90 percent collection rate. I want to thank the people of the United Methodist connection who have faithfully and continually supported the global ministries of the denomination through generous giving.”

Hahn is a multimedia news reporter for United Methodist News Service. Contact her at (615) 742-5470 or [email protected]. To read more United Methodist news, subscribe to the free Daily or Weekly Digests.

Like what you're reading? Support the ministry of UM News! Your support ensures the latest denominational news, dynamic stories and informative articles will continue to connect our global community. Make a tax-deductible donation at

Sign up for our newsletter!

General Church
For four straight years, a record number of U.S. conferences have contributed to general church funds. Church: Steven Kyle Adair, clouds: Kathleen Barry, UMCom; coins: Kevin Schneider, courtesy of Pixabay; illustration: Laurens Glass, UMNS.

For 4th year, church sees record giving

This year also marks the first time the denomination’s finance agency is also reporting apportionments from outside the U.S.
General Church
The Rev. Steve Wood presents information on the general church budget to the fellow board members of the General Council on Finance and Administration. Rick King, the agency’s chief financial officer, is at left. The board is recommending substantially cutting the 2021-24 general-church budget in hopes of keeping more funds in U.S. local churches. Photo by Heather Hahn, UMNS.

Board moves to slash general church funds

The finance agency board set a starting point that would cut more than $105 million from the general church budget in 2021-2024.
General Church
Agencies are looking at what planned cuts to apportionments will mean for their work, their staff and the people they serve. Photo illustration by Kathleen Barry, UMNS.

Deciding what budget cuts mean for ministry

United Methodist general agencies are looking at how they can tighten their belts as they face plans to cut the general church budget by more than 20 percent.

United Methodist Communications is an agency of The United Methodist Church

©2023 United Methodist Communications. All Rights Reserved