Delegates to the United Methodist General Conference engaged in several parliamentary gymnastic maneuvers before finally approving the four-year, $612.5 million budget proposed by the denomination’s fiscal agency.
Delegates spent more than three hours on May 7, the final day of their 10-day legislative gathering, debating the amount local churches would be able to contribute for worldwide ministries.
The final budget figure represents a 12.2 percent increase over the 2001-04 budget for churchwide ministries. A motion to reduce that increase to a 10 percent increase was first approved by the body. It was later reconsidered and, after a series of other motions, the assembly finally approved the General Council on Finance and Administration proposal of $612.5 million.
That total will be apportioned to each of the 63 U.S. annual conferences. The amount each conference is assessed is based on the conferences net expenditures, regional factors including per capita income, and church attendance.
Each of those conferences, or regional units, decides upon ways to request fair-share amounts from the 34,780 local United Methodist churches. The requested amounts are based on several factors including church budgets and membership. Less than 4 percent of local church receipts support general church funds.
Delegates referred a series of budget proposals to the financial agency and a financial administration committee composed of General Conference members. Those referrals added up to $61.34 million more than had been budgeted by the Council on Finance and Administration before the meeting.
The council proposed and delegates agreed to the following actions for the 2005–08 quadrennium:
- A request for $2.3 million for communication efforts in conferences outside the United States was reduced to $1 million.
- A request for $33.5 million for a media campaign was reduced by a legislative committee to $22 million and increased by the Council on Finance and Administration to $25 million.
- A request for $5.4 million for a media campaign aimed at youth was reduced to $500,000.
- A request for $1.84 million additional funding for a new Division on Ministry with Young People was reduced to $1.6 million, with $4.73 million coming through other channels.
- A request for $977,572 for the National United Methodist Native American Center was reduced to $232,000, to be used for merging with another existing Native American ministry.
- A request for $2.27 million for the “Strengthening the Black Church” initiative was reduced to $2.1 million.
- A request for $1.32 million for holistic strategies on Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean was eliminated, noting that funds are available through the denomination’s mission agency.
- A request for $10 million for a global education fund was reduced by a legislative committee to $4 million, and the Council on Finance and Administration eliminated the fund as an apportionment item and called the group to use one of the denomination’s voluntary giving plans.
- A request for $4 million for a global AIDS fund was eliminated as an apportioned item, and fund supporters were encouraged to expand their use of one of the church’s voluntary giving channels.
- A request for $425,000 for town and country ministries was eliminated as an apportioned item; the Council on Finance and Administration noted the denomination’s mission agency has $620,000 to fund this ministry.
Other quadrennial financial goals established by General Conference:
- World Service Fund (supports ministries of all general agencies), $323.5 million;
- Ministerial Education Fund, $113.1 million;
- Black College Fund, $45.1 million;
- Africa University, $10.1 million;
- Episcopal Fund, $83.5 million;
- General Administration, $28.3 million; and
- Interdenominational Cooperation Fund, $8.8 million.
*Peck is a correspondent for United Methodist News Service.
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