United Methodists are more than congregations. We are a global church connected to others through a worldwide community. When we say church, we mean much much more than a local congregation.

We are congregations connected to mission projects, schools, universities, seminaries, clinics, children's homes, hospitals, senior residences, bishops and agencies to support our worldwide mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

Our witness as The United Methodist Church worldwide is realized through seven apportioned funds. These funds include World Service, Africa University, Black College, Episcopal, General Administration, Interdenominational Cooperation and Ministerial Education. In a sentence:

The World Service Fund supports the global outreach of the church both here in Indiana, across the United States and around the world through resources, networks, relief efforts, projects and programs that make a difference in the lives of people.

The Africa University Fund supports our school in Zimbabwe.

The Black College Fund supports the 11 historic black colleges of the church in the U.S.

The Episcopal Fund supports the church's active and retired bishops worldwide, including our own Bishop Mike Coyner whose salary and office are supported through these funds.

The General Administration Fund finances those General Church activities that are specifically administrative in nature, as contrasted with programmatic, missional or ecumenical.

The Interdenominational Cooperation Fund provides basic support for ecumenical agencies, our ongoing connection to the world's Christian churches.

The Ministerial Education Fund supports the denomination's seminaries and continuing education of our pastors and ministerial candidates.

These worldwide ministries touch the lives of each of 34,000 United Methodist congregations in the United States, including our 1,200 congregations in Indiana.

The work of The United Methodist Church beyond our congregations and conference depends directly upon the financial support from 34,000 congregations across the U.S. Each conference is apportioned a fare share of these funds. This year for Indiana that means around $3 million for each of our former conferences - North and South.

Unfortunately, the amount of funding going to our fare share has been diminishing during the past few years. In a story on page 5 about Indiana Conference finances as we end 2008, both conference treasurers report that General Church income currently stands at less than half of what is covenanted. According to General Council of Finance and Administration figures, last year the North Indiana Conference funded General Church apportionments at 76 percent. The South Indiana Conference funded these apportionments at only 61 percent, the lowest percentage of all conferences in the United States.

As we begin a new Indiana Conference, we Hoosiers need to improve our support of global mission as United Methodists. Both former Indiana conferences know how to give and lead the North Central Jurisdiction in volunteers in mission both in the number of hours, volunteers and funds given to assist the lives of others. We make a difference in Indiana and around the world.

As we complete November and December, we need to more strongly support the general mission and ministries of our United Methodist Church through our General Church income, as well as we support our conference tithe for the support of our conference ministries. We benefit from these General Church funds through the education of our pastors, the support of our bishop, support in disaster relief, support of the church's social witness for justice, support of missionaries worldwide, support of Africa University, support of Igniting Ministry promotion, support of church development and communication. To learn more about The United Methodist Church beyond your congregation, visit www.umc.org. To learn more about United Methodist finances, visit www.umcgiving.org.

For Indiana to give 100 percent of its General Church income might seem like an impossibility this year; however Hoosiers have been known to participate in such miracles. The bottom line is not about money, but making a difference in the lives of people.

- Daniel R. Gangler