The 2014 financials are being finalized, and the Conference’s fiscal outlook is better than it has been in years.
United Methodist churches in the South Georgia Conference paid 88.25 percent of their 2014 conference apportionments, the highest percentage received since 2007. Total giving for conference apportionments was $738,000 higher than in 2013.
Expenses are still being tallied, but Conference leaders are optimistic about the future.
“I’m very hopeful that when we put the expense side with it that it will mean we won’t have to dip into reserves or that it will be a very slight dip into reserves,” said Rev. Jimmy Cason, chairman of the Conference’s Council on Finance and Administration (CFA).
Countless hours were spent fine tuning the budget and discerning the best use of conference resources.
“CFA has spent a lot of time examining every square inch of the budget,” Rev. Cason said. “We have strategically pruned without cutting into the ministry efforts of the conference.”
District Superintendents worked hard to educate congregations about the importance of stewardship and encouraged them to give.
The Northeast District, led by Rev. Chris Ramsey, paid a whopping 97.21 percent of their conference apportionments. Every congregation in the Southwest District paid at least a portion of their apportionment.
“Dr. Nita Crump worked hard,” Rev. Cason said. “Not a single church in the Southwest District paid nothing. That’s just huge.
“Nita spent a lot of her time asking everyone to do something. And what we found was that everybody can do something and everyone wanted to do something.”
Of the 621 local churches in the South Georgia Conference, 428 paid 100 percent of their apportionments and an additional 21 churches paid more than 100 percent.
“That’s 72 percent of our congregations at or over the 100 percent mark,” said Dr. Derek McAleer, Director of Administrative Services. “It is also gratifying to see that 93 congregations increased the percentage they paid in 2014 over 2013. This is a wonderful sign of their generous spirit.”
Most congregations saw a reduction in their 2015 conference apportionment requests from their 2014 askings, and conference leaders are encouraged by the upward tick in giving.
“In our 2015 budget we are asking less from churches from what we were asking in 2014. If the churches continue at the pace they were in 2014 I think that we turned the corner and are going in a better direction,” Rev. Cason said.
Both Rev. Cason and Dr. McAleer praised Miriam Hagan, who recently retired as the longtime Director of Administrative Services, and Bishop King for their tireless work on the budget and for emphasizing the importance of faithful giving.
“Bishop King led by example and conversation,” Dr. McAleer said. “Miriam Hagan put so much into the budget and we are thrilled that she’s retiring on a high note.”
Apportionments support conference, district and global efforts to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. Some of the conference ministries include the Office of Connectional Ministries, which seeks to resource and support local churches in their disciple formation efforts, and New and Revitalized Congregational Development. On a global level, apportioned dollars support missionary deployment, discipleship resources and much more.