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Faithful giving allows vital Conference work to continue

Faithful giving allows vital Conference work to continue

Conference News

The COVID-19 pandemic forced every church in the Florida Conference to give extra scrutiny to each expenditure. But as the new year dawned, it was clear that United Methodist churches throughout the state came through for the Conference’s shared ministries.

Overall, churches paid a surprising 83.1% of apportionments, money that supports Conference ministries throughout the state, nation, and globe.

Historically, the churches of the Florida Conference combined normally pay about 88% of apportionments. Considering the obstacles in 2020, to come that close to the historical average goal enabled the Conference to continue its vital work of serving communities throughout Florida and beyond.

"We know it was very difficult for the churches. They had to transition from in-person worship to online and had to set up new ways for people to make their offerings," Conference Interim Treasurer Craig Smelser said.

"Based on the information we had in late March and early April, and the collections we received in the month after shutdown, we had prepared for a much lower collection rate. The churches deserve credit, that's for sure. They adjusted so well, and they were committed to the connectional nature of our ministry."

The Conference did its part by tightly controlling expenses such as salaries, travel, and turning the Annual Conference into a one-day virtual event instead of a multi-day in-person meeting.

That stewardship allowed leadership to trim expenses so it could prioritize areas of greatest need.

"We didn't want to cut funding to the outreach ministries that reach the most vulnerable people we serve in our communities, but to do that we needed to look for new ways that we could leverage technology," Smelser said.
"In some cases, we were able to fund additional programs and ministries because we had the funds to do so."

It's important news to share.

"We want the churches to hear the story that's going on, with transparency about apportionments, process, and budgets," said David Miller, Chair of the Council of Finance and Administration.

"We reduced the Conference budget by 10%, and we reduced it 10% the year before that. The Conference takes seriously the job of being good stewards of the resources we are given. It's good for people to know that. We want them to feel like this is a partnership and they are part of that."

The apportionment budget for 2021 is about $2.5 million lower than the year before, and monetary reserves are strong. And as in 2020, the priority will be funding ministries that bless the local churches ministries and people of Florida.

"We know challenges remain and will continue to be there, but I do feel good about the faithfulness of the churches," Smelser said. "We trust the faithfulness of God to bring us through this."

Craig Smelser and Rev. David Miller discuss apportionments and the conference budget.


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