The Indiana Conference’s giving to The United Methodist General Church apportionments was dismal this past year (Together March 2010) with giving just a little above 50 percent for both former conferences. This level of giving by Hoosier United Methodists saddened many conference leaders. Our giving level to the General Church was an embarrassment to our Bishop, Mike Coyner, who sits on the church’s General Commission on Administration and Finance.
True, we have had a tough economic year in Indiana and so have our United Methodist siblings in Illinois, but the Illinois Great Rivers Conference was able to give 100 percent of its General Church apportionments because it chose to do so. We can make excuses that our state’s economy has taken a nose dive from which we are slowly recovering, but that is only an excuse.
At the same time, Hoosier United Methodists gave in abundance during our responses to survivors of Katrina, statewide flooding two years ago and the new Haiti earthquake relief efforts with a total giving to date for Haiti recovery at $632,928 for use by the United Methodist Committee on Relief.
Without the support of the General Church, The United Methodist Church beyond Indiana, the global mission and ministries of United Methodists in more than 70 countries, including our Third World partners in faith, we could not mobilize in times of crises.
We may think that General Church leaders make too much money or that agencies squander their money, but we forget that a great portion of that money goes to administer thousands of mission projects which supply and meet the needs of hundreds of thousands of fellow Christians both here in the United States and globally to share the good news of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. These funds build structures and provide higher education and direction for hundreds of programs and projects. Our General Church apportionments are the life blood to many projects providing tens of thousands of people with hope and well being in our world today. Unfortunately, many General Church agencies have had to cut back extensively by dramatically reducing their staffs thus lessening their resources to carry out their goals because General Conference apportionments have not been met.
Part of the problem of our collectively poor giving to General Church apportionments may be a lack of education about these programs, therefore Together and the Connectional Ministries of the Conference will be introducing a program of information and promotion called “Together We Can.” This communication-information program will be introduced during the upcoming Indiana Annual Conference session during the Council on Finance and Administration report.
What is done is done. We can’t increase our giving to the General Church for last year, but we can be more productive when it comes to these apportionments this year. Even though the conference is obligated by the church’s “Book of Discipline” to pay 100 percent of its General Church obligations, the conference plans to pay at least 80 percent of its General Church apportionments this year, 90 percent next year and 100 percent in two years. Of each $1,000 given to the local church, only $22 is the General Church Apportionment. Indiana’s share of the General Church apportionment for 2010 is $5,867,013. This includes:
- World Service Fund at $3,056,509,
- Ministerial Education Fund at $1,046,327,
- Black College Fund at $417,421,
- Africa University Fund at $93,422,
- Episcopal Fund at $840,724,
- General Administration Fund at $331,176 and
- Interdenominational Cooperation Fund at $81,434.
That task won’t be difficult if each of our 1,200 congregations gives 100 percent of its conference tithe each month – challenging, yes. Currently, the vast majority of congregations don’t give at this level of commitment.
During the next 12 to 18 months, General Church apportionments will be promoted and interpreted in more ways than they have been interpreted in the past with the hope that these apportionments will be met 100 percent in the future. Yes, together we can.
Daniel R. Gangler