LAKELAND – When they meet for Annual Conference in June, members of the Florida United Methodist Church will be asked to approve a $21.4 million budget for 2015.
That’s a little more than 2 percent increase over this year’s budget and reflects a healthy economic situation for the Florida Conference, said Mickey Wilson, conference treasurer.
“The conference has never been stronger,” Wilson said in an interview. “We have individual churches still struggling, but overall the church is stronger than it has been in at least a decade.”
Across the conference, 85 percent of Florida’s assigned apportionments for 2013 were paid, the highest percentage since 2006, according to data compiled by the conference Knowledge & Information Services staff. More than 400 churches – about 65 percent of congregations in the Florida Conference – paid their full share in 2013.
An improving economic climate that provides jobs and investment opportunities is part of the reason, but Wilson said reminding church members that their donations fuel mission and ministry efforts of The United Methodist Church also plays a role.
“I think we’re doing a better job of delivering the message about the importance of apportional giving,” Wilson said.
Reflected in next year’s budget is a Florida Conference Strategic Leadership Team (SLT) recommendation to devote more resources to missions and ministries, also known as conference benevolences.
“We’re trying to move more money out of the administrative area and into the missions and ministry area,” Wilson said. “Conference benevolences is now 30 percent of the total apportionments, and conference administration is 8 percent.”
Nearly $7 million of the proposed $21.4 million budget is designated as Florida’s share of apportionments to The United Methodist Church as a whole. Almost $11 million would go toward Florida Conference departments and ministries, which reflects a 4.3 percent increase over last year. That budget includes college campus ministries, camps and retreats, global and domestic missions, new church development, support for existing ministries and other efforts best achieved through united giving.
Almost $3.8 million would be divided among the conference’s nine districts, for a 3.4 percent increase.
“For the first time, the district-specific apportionments are in the (Annual Conference) workbook,” Wilson said. “The SLT recommended that the district finances be handled at the conference level.”
The treasurer said district-level budgets and spending will also be included in next year’s annual audit of conference finances.
“When you look at the audit next year, it will have everybody’s numbers … and all the assets,” Wilson said. “In keeping with that, the district-specific apportionments are going to be part of the budget going forward.”
Wilson also plans to tell Annual Conference attendees about other good financial news: Investment revenues increased by $14 million this year, while liabilities went down by $20 million, resulting in a net asset increase of $34 million.
For detailed information about the 2015 proposed budget, see pages 127-136 of the Annual Conference workbook. Click here for information about Annual Conference.
-- Susan Green is the managing editor of Florida Conference Connection.