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Approved budget represents significant decrease

Approved budget represents significant decrease

e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service

Approved budget represents significant decrease

June 20, 2007  News media contact: Tita Parham*
800-282-8011  Orlando {0689}

An e-Review Feature
By Erik J. Alsgaard**

LAKELAND — Florida United Methodists have a new budget for 2008, and it is more than $1.1 million less than the 2007 budget.

Members approved the $17.3 million budget June 9 at the 2007 Florida Annual Conference Event in Lakeland. The new budget represents a decrease of 6.1 percent from the 2007 budget.

Florida Conference Treasurer Mickey Wilson gives his presenation on the state of the conference's financial health and details about the proposed 2008 budget. Photo by Caryl Kelley. Photo #07-0607

“We are moving money into ministry, rather than continuing to fund areas that are already fully funded,” said Milton “Mickey” Wilson, conference treasurer. “Our objective was to improve the ministry of the conference, and we think this budget does that.”

One reason for the decrease is a reduction in funds from the budget to pay for health care for retired clergy, one area already fully funded. For 2008, the budget shows zero dollars for health care for retired clergy. In 2007, that figure was about $1.5 million.

“We have the money now to pay for retired clergy health care in 2008 at no drop in service for retired clergy,” said Wilson during the conference event. “There is sufficient money, made possible by apportionment dollars given over many, many years, to eliminate, at least for 2008, the need for a budget request.”

Additional funding came from earnings from a surplus of funds held at the General Board of Pension and Health Benefits.

Almost half of the 2008 budget proposal — 45.3 percent — is targeted for “Total Connectional Church” ministry. This $7.87 million figure is set by the General Council on Finance and Administration and is the amount the Florida Conference is apportioned toward the overall denominational budget. For 2008, it represents an increase of 5.2 percent over the 2007 amount.

Wilson addressed this portion of the budget during the laity session June 6 and again June 9 during that morning’s debate on the budget.

In his presentation to the laity, Wilson noted the original budget request from the general agencies called for a $68 million increase for the next quadrennium. Despite having almost $250 million in reserves, he said the general agencies “are still asking for more.”

“The future of The Methodist Church is not on Riverside Drive in New York City (home of the General Board of Global Ministries … not on Davis Street in Evanston (Illinois, home of the General Board of Pensions and Health Benefits) … not at 1 Music Square in Nashville, Tenn. (home of the General Council on Finance and Administration). And since there are no DSs or bishops here, I’ll tell you confidentially, the future of The Methodist Church is not on McDonald Street in Lakeland (home of the Florida Conference Center),” Wilson said. “The future of the Methodist Church is in your pews.”

The 2008 budget also shows a reduction because of almost $300,000 in carry-overs from 2006 actual expenditures, Wilson said. A portion of unspent 2007 dollars will be classified as “carry over” and used to reduce the 2008 budget, calculated at 50 percent of the budget surplus for the corresponding funding category. Previously, it was a “use it or lose it” mentality, Wilson said.

An amendment that would have frozen salaries for the nine district superintendents did not pass, nor did a motion directing the Florida Conference’s trustees to research and determine the possibility of the conference purchasing or leasing fuel-efficient cars costing less than $20,000 for each of the conference’s district superintendents.

Wilson applauded Florida United Methodists for their generosity. Combined, they contributed $24.4 million dollars for mission and ministry in 2006, and slightly more than $2.7 million in so-called extra mile giving that is not part of the apportioned budget. This includes advance special and other special gift giving, such as to the United Methodist Children’s Home, Conference Advance Specials, One Great Hour of Sharing and other special Sundays.

Wilson noted this generosity was accomplished in the face of staggering increases in property and casualty insurance. From 2006 to 2007, insurance premiums rose more than $5 million.

“We celebrate the very intentional and careful work of our conference staff,” said the Rev. Dan Johnson, chairman of the conference’s Council on Finance and Administration, and pastor of Trinity United Methodist Church in Gainesville. “They honor the idea of stewardship at its best, which allows more dollars to go into ministry. It builds trust and helps all of us do the important work of aligning our financial resources with our ministry goals and objectives. For that, we are most grateful.”

Videos, photos, summaries and additional information about the conference event are available on the Florida Conference Web site at


This article relates to the Conference Finances/2007 Florida Annual Conference Event.

*Parham is managing editor of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.
**Alsgaard is director of communications for the Florida Conference.