Two of the practices of The United Methodist Church that I have really appreciated and liked are our connectionalism and our supporting programs and missions through apportionments.
From one of the churches that I served in the past, a doctor became a United Methodist missionary and went into the African mission field and became very skilled in Christ-centered treatment of African diseases and illnesses. However, he admitted that when he came home and spoke at churches, he did a very poor job. “That just was not his thing.”
This doctor appreciated very much that he and his work were supported by the General Board of Global Ministries, which was supported by apportionments. If he had to raise his own support, he would not be able to stay in the mission field.
I am noticing a movement in The United Methodist Church towards having churches and individuals choose what projects, if any, they wish to support, which is similar to the way more independent churches and denominations do. That requires those in mission to have to spend time and effort raising support rather than being in total ministry.
Some missionaries have a great deal of success at such an arrangement, but the doctor from my church who was in mission in Africa would not have been able to serve that way.
I wonder how many members of the Annual Conference would be willing to raise their own per diem and travel expense outside their local church to attend annual conference, conference board and committee meetings.
I wonder if our bishops, superintendents and conference staff would be willing to be required to raise their own support through voluntary contributions rather than by apportionments.
Yes, it makes us feel good to give to the mission projects that appeal to us personally and certainly, should continue this option, but is voluntary the best and only way to get our denomination’s work in the Kingdom done?
F. Kaye Bass
Elder, member of the Indiana Conference