By Kara Witherow, Editor
For the second consecutive year, apportionment giving in the South Georgia Conference reached 90 percent.
The total collected for 2016 was $9,377,572.65 on a 10,419,695 budget. Giving was almost level to 2015’s, down only about $400.
“Flat” is the word Dr. Derek McAleer used to describe the Conference’s apportionment giving.
“It had been increasing and I wish it had increased this year too,” he said. “This is still pretty good, though not quite as good (as last year, when the Conference received 90.53 percent on its apportionments, the highest since 2007).”
Bishop Lawson Bryan is appreciative of each local church’s apportionment giving.
“Congratulations to the South Georgia Conference on payment of 90 percent of our conference apportionments! This is how we extend our influence for Christ around the world,” he said. “We are Alive Together in Christ through our connectional giving.”
In addition to what was received for apportionments, $95,552.50 was given for approved Special Sundays and $617,699.01 was given for advance specials and other missional giving.
As they did in 2015, the Northeast and Southwest Districts led in giving, paying 98.58 percent and 95.81 percent of their Conference apportionments, respectively. Rev. Chris Ramsey, superintendent of the Northeast District, and Dr. Nita Crump, superintendent of the Southwest District, are to be commended for leading their districts to such strong giving, Dr. McAleer said.
“Both of them have asked every church to do their share,” he said.
Of the Conference’s 610 churches, 459 paid 100 percent of their apportionments and 29 churches paid more than 100 percent. Only 19 churches paid nothing on their conference apportionments and their district apportionments.
“Apportionments are the major way for local churches to be part of the worldwide ministry that United Methodism has. It is the tangible expression of being a connectional church,” Dr. McAleer said. “Like Bob Moon says – we do life better together, and we think we do mission better together.”
Rev. Ricky Varnell is passionate about connectionalism and apportionment giving. When he served as its superintendent, the Dublin District paid 100 percent of its apportionments for seven years in a row. He’s carried that passion to Sylvania United Methodist Church, where he has served since 2015.
“Apportionment giving is the lifeblood of the Methodist church,” said Rev. Varnell, adding that it’s one way of being connectional and participating in the worldwide nature of The United Methodist Church.
The Northeast District, of which Sylvania UMC is a part, has a unique philosophy to pay 100 percent of their Conference apportionments: have churches like Sylvania UMC, which pays their apportionments in full, partner with and help other congregations pay their apportionments.
It’s working – in 2016, all but three Northeast District churches paid 100 percent of their Conference apportionments.
“The churches in the district believe in the Methodist connection,” Rev. Ramsey said. “We have a sense that we’re in this together and we work as a team. We support each other, including financially, and the vast majority of the churches understand that our apportionments are the first order of benevolent giving.”
There’s an understanding, he said, that congregations can do more together than individually – no one church can build a hospital, a university, a seminary, or a children’s home – but through apportionment giving they can participate in the Conference and denomination’s mission and ministry efforts.
“It allows us to carry Christ into parts of the world where we ourselves will never be able to go,” he said.
Dr. Crump encourages the congregations in the Southwest District to pay 100 percent of their apportionments as one way to participate in the Church’s worldwide outreach efforts. It’s also part of what it means to be United Methodist, she said.
One approach she’s used to great success is for the district as a whole to have “no zeros on the end of the year reports.”
The district has accomplished this for three years, and in 2016 every church in the Southwest District paid something towards their apportionments without any help from other churches. The few congregations who have not paid 100 percent are expected to develop a plan that gets them to that goal in the next two to four years.
District superintendents and pastors have worked hard to educate and share the ministry and mission of apportionments, Dr. McAleer said.
Rev. Varnell sees apportionment giving as an offering back to God for all He has provided.
“Giving is not an obligation, it is a privilege,” he said.