Conference treasurer says giving to conference, churches is up (May 20, 2004)



e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service
      
 

Conference treasurer says giving to conference, churches is up

May 20, 2004    News media contact:  Michael Wacht*    
407-897-1140   
mwacht@flumc.org     Orlando  {0079}

An e-Review Feature
By J.A. Buchholz**

LAKELAND — Apportionment giving in the Florida Conference is steadily improving, according to Dr. Randy Casey-Rutland, the conference’s treasurer.

Casey-Rutland said apportionment giving is ahead for the year by almost one percent when compared to year-to-date average receipts for the past five years. He said the conference has received nearly 26 percent of apportionments through April 2004 compared to the five-year average of almost 25 percent.

Apportionments aren’t the only area finances are improving, Casey-Rutland said, citing giving to the Advance for Christ and His Church at $245,000 through April 2004 compared to $212,000 in April 2003.

The Advance supports thousands of ministries in more than 100 countries. It is not part of the apportioned funds and conference benevolence commitments local churches pay. The seven apportioned funds are the World Service, Ministerial Education, Africa University, Black College, Interdenominational Cooperation, Episcopal and General Administration funds.

Casey-Rutland said giving is up because the financial outlook is improving for local churches.

“What I have heard from pastors is that many are experiencing better giving within their own congregations,” he said. “So I think that is putting the conference in a healthier financial situation than last year. The local church, annual conference is stronger financially than last year.”

The increased giving heading into the typically lean summer months could be the first sign of a financial trend, according to Casey-Rutland. He said he is more optimistic than he’s been at this time of year in the past three or even four years.

“I appreciate what clergy and laity are doing to strengthen the sense of stewardship and financial giving and God’s work at all levels of the church,” he said.

Tom Marston, president of the Florida United Methodist Foundation, will be joining the effort to keep clergy and laity informed about the importance of connectional giving. Marston will be the contact person for the conference’s Connectional Stewardship Ministry, which will educate congregations about apportionments and financial giving.

Marston said the first step is requesting that each district superintendent ask each church to name one person who is willing to be trained as a local church interpreter for connectional giving. He said there will be a fall training session and monthly e-mails after that so the interpreter can forward information about the conference’s financial status to his or her congregation.

“The goal is to increase the understanding of stewardship at all levels,” Marston said. “We want to increase knowledge of local ministries and the ministries of the church.”

On average 83.2 cents of each dollar contributed stays in the local church for ministries and expenses. Less than 4 cents goes to United Methodist churchwide missions, salaries and administrative costs, and 12.8 cents goes to regional ministries in the annual conference and jurisdiction, according to Sharing God’s Gifts, a resource produced by United Methodist Communications in Nashville.

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This article relates to Stewardship and Connectional Giving.

*Wacht is director of Florida United Methodist Communications and managing editor
of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.
**Buchholz is a staff writer for e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.




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