Conference finances strong in 2005



e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service
      
 

Conference finances strong in 2005

Nov. 17, 2005  News media contact: Tita Parham*  
800-282-8011 
tparham@flumc.org   Orlando {0400}

An e-Review Feature
By Jenna De Marco**

LAKELAND — 2005 remains on track to be a very strong year in terms of Florida Conference finances, according to Treasurer Randy Casey-Rutland.

"Giving to the conference in a variety of ways, which would be through apportionments ... or designated giving, is significantly above recent years," Casey-Rutland said.

Giving to the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) in the month of September alone totaled $1.2 million. That amount exceeds the previous seven-year average total giving to UMCOR of about $860,000 per year. Giving designated just for 2005 hurricane relief through September totals more than $1.7 million.

"This is very much event-driven," Casey-Rutland said of the UMCOR giving, adding that natural disasters, such as the hurricanes and the tsunami last December, and events like those of Sept. 11 spur the increased giving.

Several signs indicate good news for conference finances. Actual dollars received for apportionments have outpaced the amounts received in recent years for every month this year, with the exception of May and June.

"Year-to-date through September we typically stand at about 56 percent, but this year we have received nearly 61 percent of apportionments," Casey-Rutland said. "This is a net increase of about 10 percent in giving toward apportionments through September."

Casey-Rutland emphasized the conference usually receives 25 percent to 30 percent of its giving during December and early January.

"I hope this positive trend continues," Casey-Rutland said. "If things continue ... then this will turn out to be a very good year."

Casey-Rutland speculates at least three reasons account for the increased giving.

"One (reason) would be some of the efforts the conference has made to communicate about connectional giving," he said.

The Florida United Methodist Foundation Inc. stepped up its efforts in 2004 to assist in explaining the need for connectional giving, according to the foundation's president, the Rev. Tom Marston.

"Last year we agreed with the conference to (help) interpret what connectional giving means, from the smallest effects to the largest," he said.

The foundation conducted educational meetings at every district with representatives from as many local churches as possible to emphasize the variety of reasons for giving. Foundation staff also added more information about connectional giving to the foundation's Web site (http://www.fumf.org.), as well as provided churches with a 90-second video about the topic, Marston said.

Casey-Rutland cited changes happening at the conference and district levels, "reorganizing districts and the conference to better serve the local church," as another factor.

"I think people are hopeful that these initiatives will bear fruit for the conference," he said.

A third possible explanation stems from the impact of the 2004 hurricanes.

"Being the body of Christ with a calling in the midst of disaster ... has given clear meaning and motivation to people," he said.

Conference records also show local churches are doing well in meeting such obligations as clergy health, workers compensation, and property and casualty insurance.

"Collectively the district offices have received about $175,000 more in district work fund apportionments and district missions and church extension fund apportionments through September of this year compared to the same time frame in 2004," Casey-Rutland said. "That's good financial news for our districts during this transition year."

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This article relates to Connectional Giving.

*Parham is managing editor of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.
**De Marco is a freelance writer based in Viera, Fla.




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