Together We Can

Two years ago, the former conferences of the Indiana Conference of The United Methodist Church decided to stop using an apportionment formula to allocate giving beyond the congregation and moved to a simpler tithe (10%) method to determine what each congregation would give during any given year.

The apportionment formula is a complex equalization formula used by the General Church to determine what each conference and each congregation would be apportioned to support the work of the Church beyond the congregation, or in United Methodist language, the local church. It was based on both membership and finances.

Unlike the apportionment, the tithe is based on finances and current monthly finances. The tithe is ten percent of a congregation’s monthly income, not counting any capital projects. If the finances of the congregation are up one month, the congregation will be able to give more to the conference tithe. If finances are down, the congregation will give less.

The financial services area of the Indiana Conference Center is able to closely determine the income of each of the 1,200 congregations. Jennifer Gallagher, the Indiana Conference treasurer, projects the 2011 income of the Indiana Conference congregations to be approximately $177.7 million dollars. Therefore, the estimated tithe income for 2011, if every congregation tithed its income, would be $17.7 million.

However, only a minority of our 1,200 congregations fully tithe their income. Therefore, using what has been learned during the past two years, Gallagher has estimated our conference tithe income for 2011 will be $14.2 million. In addition to the conference tithe, the treasurer also plans to receive $1.4 million or one percent of income for district ministry support. That’s the income side of the budget. Together, that’s a total of $15.6 million for the conference and ten districts.

The other side of the budget is the expense or the ministry side of the budget. That’s how $14.2 million will be spent to support The United Methodist Church across Indiana and share in the support of the global United Methodist Church beyond Indiana.

The conference expense budget is divided into nine segments. They include with percentages of the whole expense budget:

  1. District and Cabinet – 17%,
  2. Clergy Benefits – 12%,
  3. Connectional Ministries – 14%,
  4. Church Development – 7%,
  5. Communication – 2%,
  6. Administrative Services – 8%,
  7. Bishop’s Office – 1%,
  8. Financial Services – 6%, and
  9. General Church Apportionments – 33%.

Indiana Conference

Now, let’s take a closer look at the first eight segments and see where our money goes in fulfilling the ministry of the UMC here in Indiana.

District and Cabinet – 17% or about $1.2 million goes for compensation and benefit for our 10 district superintendents.

Added to this is the one-percent or more “tithe” determined by each district that goes to the district’s ministry and mission and also includes the district center, housing, telephone, automobile and expenses. Each district superintendent oversees the ministry of around 120 congregations.

Clergy Benefits – 12% or $1.9 million includes retires health insurance subsidy and debt retirement of past benefits.

The next five segments is the Indiana Conference Center based in Indianapolis or what we refer to as the Conference budgets. These five total $5.8 million. The numbers are rounded. They include:

Connectional Ministries – 14% or $2.1 million goes for program, expenses and staff salaries of advocacy, discipleship, mission, youth, youth adult, campus and emerging ministries plus other projects that include: camping and seven camp facilities, the board of ordained ministry, annual conference session, the Media Center based in Marion and Archives at DePauw University in Greencastle.

Church Development – 7% or $1.1 million, which pays for a director, three associates and one part-time employee located across the state to assist congregations in growth and development of existing congregations and in beginning new congregations and assisting congregational outreach.

Communication – 2% or $240,000, which pays a director and communication assistant in the publication of nine issues of the Hoosier United Methodists Together, the conference newspaper, three weekly e-mail publications, e-mail announcements as they are needed, Bishop Coyner’s E-pistle, the conference website, plus public relations and crisis communication services.

Administrative Services – 8% or $1.2 million, which provides for a secretarial pool for Conference Center directors and associate directors, office operations, which includes everything from postage to paying the lease, legal services, conference property insurance and management of clergy benefits programs including pensions and health care insurance.

Bishop’s Office – 1% or $174,000 to provide support services for the bishop including executive assistant, a secretary and a receptionist. The bishop’s salary and his expenses are paid for by the General Church.

Financial Services – 6% or $945,000, which manages both the annual conference database and the conferences expenses including the management of Advanced Special gifts to missions, receiving and accounting for the conference tithe and district tithe, payroll, conference vehicles, insurance and continuing education. If it’s got a dollar sign attached, financial services manage it.

General Church

The largest segment of the conference budget is the General Church and Jurisdictional Apportionments – 33% or $5.7 million. This is Indiana’s fair share of financing the global outreach of The United Methodist Church from projects right here in Indiana, including ministerial education; across the United States in mission projects; Christian education; relationships with universities, hospitals, homes for seniors and homes for children; plus global outreach among 70 countries and the support of missionaries and mission projects worldwide.

As of Aug. 31, the Indiana Conference has paid $2.9 million in General Church apportionments this year.

The budget of The United Methodist Church is determined by General Conference, the top legislative body of the church. Allocations of apportionments to this budget are made annually to each conference by the General Council on Finance and Administration. They include:

The World Service Fund – our share is $2.9 million. WSF supports the basic denominational work of the UMC around the world, including all general agencies including Global Ministries, Church and Society, Communications, Discipleship, Higher Education and Ministry and other smaller agencies.

The Ministerial Education Fund – our share is $1 million. MEF supports our United Methodist seminaries and seminary grants to our ministerial candidates. One-fourth of this fund stays in Indiana for the continuing education of our pastors to such events as Our Life Together.

The Black College Fund – our share is $402,000. BCF supports the educational ministry of our historic African-American colleges and universities in the United States.

The Africa University Fund – our share is $90,000. This fund supports Africa University in Zimbabwe, which trains leaders for 30 countries across Africa.

The Episcopal Fund – our share is $837,800. This fund supports the ministry of our active and retired United Methodist bishops, around the world, including those regions which cannot afford to support the cost of their own bishop. This fund also includes retirement benefits and health care insurance for many retired bishops and surviving spouses. Bishop Coyner’s salary and expenses are paid from this fund, not from the Indiana Conference tithe.

General Administration Fund – our share is $325,700. This fund supports the general administration costs of running the denomination, including the infrastructure, which allows second-mile giving, that permits 100 percent of those projects designated by the donors.

And finally, the Interdenominational Cooperative Fund – our share is $79,000. This fund supports our ecumenical cooperation, including the work of the General Commission on Ecumenical and inter-religious Concerns, and our cooperative work with other Methodist denominations around the world.

Remember on average only $22 of every $1,000 spent by the local church or congregation goes to the General Church apportionment.

Our Jurisdictional Apportionments also includes $40,000 to help support the work of our North Central Jurisdiction, which meets once every four years to elect and assigns bishops. The NCJ also coordinates the work of such things as disaster relief and Volunteers in Mission in conjunction with the United Methodist Committee on Relief.

What is more important than the dollars are the thousands of lives who are touched physically, emotionally and spiritually through United Methodist globally ministries. Because of our connections, we are able to be in Haiti, Chile, Zimbabwe, Sierra Leone or Liberia or in tens of other countries and all 50 states. Together we can through our tithes and offerings.

For more information, visit