Constitutional changes on funding fall short

Two amendments to The United Methodist Church’s constitution regarding the redistribution of funds did not garner the necessary two-thirds vote on May 3. The amendments would have allowed General Conference to designate a body to reallocate funds between sessions of the quadrennial gathering.

The General Council on Finance and Administration, the denomination’s finance agency, submitted the amendments. The changes were championed by leaders of the Call to Action process. The original Call to Action proposal called for a body to be able to redistribute up to $60 million of general church funds. The money was intended for three efforts: providing more theological education outside the United States, developing more young church leaders and fostering more vital congregations.

That proposal did not make it out of the Financial Administration Legislative Committee. Such a redistribution is not possible in the next four years without the constitutional amendments.

But the General Council on Finance and Administration has altered its proposed general budget to redesignate $12 million in funds to help theological education in the central conferences, particularly in Africa, and young clergy in the United States.

The proposal includes:

  • $5 million for the Central Conference Theological Education Fund
  • $7 million for the Young Clergy Initiative

The funds will come from money previously budgeted for general agencies.

The full assembly is now debating the proposed general church budget for the next four years. The General Council on Finance and Administration has recommended a budget of $603.1 million. The figure represents a 6.04 percent reduction from the previous four years and marks the first time a smaller budget has gone before the church’s top legislative body for approval.

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