The South Georgia Conference of The United Methodist Church will be undergoing budget reductions to appropriately plan for financial implications as a result of local church disaffiliations. Based upon recent trends and detailed predictions, the annual conference is seeking to decrease its 2024 operating budget in order to maximize its sustainability and viability as an annual conference.
In the Fall, the South Georgia Conference’s Council on Finance and Administration (CFA) asked Bishop David Graves and the Leadership Forum, a representative group of conference leaders, to make budget reduction recommendations totaling $1.6 million for the 2024 budget.
The Leadership Forum met in October to provide initial direction and feedback to a smaller subgroup of the Forum. This smaller group met in November, December, and January. They did budget analysis and had conversations with stakeholder groups throughout the conference. They presented their findings to the full Leadership Forum in January, who then voted to present recommendations to CFA at its Spring meetings in March.
The first step in budget reductions is a proposal to restructure district leadership. While the six districts will remain in place, there will be three regions with two districts in each region. One District Superintendent will oversee one region. The cost saving in reducing 3 district superintendent positions is approximately $600,000. The six physical district offices will be eliminated as well as the district administrative assistant positions.
“This is the most difficult part of ministry leadership,” said Bishop David Graves. “We value people and talent, but we must prioritize what is needed in the conference and districts to achieve our goals. While it is painful to eliminate any positions, we must appropriately plan for the future of the conference.
“We celebrate faithful missional giving during these challenging times and acknowledge the many churches who have continued their commitment to the conference. A comprehensive district plan will ultimately allow more funding to remain in the local churches,” said Bishop Graves.
Each region will have a District Superintendent, and there will be a ministry and administrative team supporting the work of each district. The District Superintendents, the pairings of districts, and the structural plans for the support team will be announced in the coming weeks.
The restructuring of district leadership will take effect June 2023.
Along with the savings from district leadership reduction, the Leadership Forum is proposing 2024 budget cuts to the following areas: Administrative Services Director position (sharing costs with Alabama-West Florida), Connectional Ministries, Hispanic Ministries, Higher Education and Ministry, Board of Ministry, Contingency Fund, Comprehensive Protection Plan, and the Annual Conference session.
“I want to express my appreciation to Bishop Graves and to the Leadership Forum for the work they did and the information they have provided CFA to help us make the best decisions for our Annual Conference,” said the Rev. Dr. Shane Green, CFA chairman. “We will use their recommendations as the basis of our work in March as we prepare the 2024 budget.”
Once approved by CFA at their April meeting a detailed budget will be presented to the conference to be voted on at the 2023 Annual Conference session. CFA will release the full budget recommendations following their March 24 meeting.