Conference leaders say financial picture looks promising heading into year-end



e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service
      
 

Conference leaders say financial picture looks promising heading into year-end

Oct. 25, 2006  News media contact: Tita Parham*
800-282-8011 
tparham@flumc.org  Orlando {0564}

An e-Review Feature
By John Michael De Marco**

Florida Conference Treasurer Mickey Wilson is upbeat about the conference’s financial health in the final quarter of 2006, despite a significant increase in insurance premiums that took place at the beginning of the calendar year.
 
Through the end of August $9.6 million had been received toward the conference’s connectional giving goals, compared with $10.2 million in August 2005. The total conference budget for 2006 is $19.2 million.

“I truly am ecstatic about the generosity of the people in the pews of the Florida Annual Conference,” Wilson said. “Through August we were slightly behind where we have been year-to-date in percentage of receipts as far as connectional giving goes. We must give more in the last part of the year, but generally we do.”

Wilson says what he’s most impressed about is that churches have paid $5 million more in insurance premiums, while only paying half a million less toward connectional giving. In other words, Wilson says, total receipts from churches are up this year by about $5 million, but $5.5 million is money collected for insurance premiums, which means $500,000 less for connectional giving.

At the beginning of 2006 churches paid higher deductibles and an average of 65 percent more for property and casualty insurance premiums.

Bishop Timothy W. Whitaker said he is proud of the connectional giving efforts of local congregations in light of those increases. “Even though we are behind in both dollars and percentage of apportionments paid, it is obvious that our members are generous and taking their responsibilities seriously,” he said.

Whitaker says the recent track record of giving is due, in part, to the work the Florida United Methodist Foundation has done to interpret connectional giving during the last several years. “I believe every member has a right to have this knowledge, and I also believe that most congregations are more supportive when they possess this knowledge,” he said. He encourages churches to continue striving to meet “our goals in connectional giving in the final quarter of this year” and to contact their district superintendent if they would like assistance from the foundation or conference treasurer’s office in interpreting giving.

Wilson said conference leaders have been concerned about meeting the conference’s connectional giving goals, but echoed Whitaker’s optimism. “The generosity of the people in the church is terrific, and I’m confident that generosity will hold true and we’ll reach our connectional giving goals.”

One reason for the positive outlook is that insurance premium payments for 2006 have, for the most part, been collected, leaving churches time to focus on meeting connectional giving goals. Wilson encourages clergy to help the conference meet those goals down the stretch by emphasizing the nature of the connectional system.

“It is supportive of so many different organizations,” he noted. “We send the money to general church funds and higher education that helps support our seminaries. We also help support Africa University, the Board of Discipleship, UMCOR, all of those things — new church starts, black colleges. We’re not only having ministry for the person down the street, but as Methodists, when we give that dollar we’re also having ministry in Romania and Africa and so forth.”

“I want to applaud these people in the pews,” Wilson added. “This is a conference that gets it. They’re to be commended. I’m confident that we will catch up.”

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This article relates to Administration/Conference Finances.

*Parham is managing editor of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.
**De Marco is a commissioned minister of the Florida Conference and a freelance writer, speaker and consultant.




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