By Jerry Wolgemuth
There was a jubilant reaction by the Cabinet and the Conference staff to the news announced by Susquehanna Conference Treasurer Gary Smith on January 28, “We have paid 100 percent of our monetary commitment to the budget of the United Methodist Church.”
Bishop Jeremiah J. Park responded in a QuikLINK e-mail broadcast, “This $2,949,444 demonstrates the generosity of God’s people of the Susquehanna Conference, as well as their commitment to the connectional covenant, for the sake of the mission of our church: To make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. It also represents more lives touched and transformed with the love of God. Indeed, together we make a difference in a more significant way. I deeply resonate with the words of thanksgiving in First Thessalonians as I think of God’s people of the Susquehanna Conference: ‘How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy we have in the presence of our God because of you?’ (1Thessalonians 3:9, NIV) You are a gift of healing and hope for the hurting world.”
The Susquehanna Conference, formed as a new annual conference in 2010, fell short of the amount allocated by the General Church.
“We actually accomplished this sooner than we expected,” Gary Smith says. “Because of the economic impact of forming a new annual conference we anticipated that it might be six years before we could meet our annual apportionment.”
The primary way in which the ministries of the United Methodist Church are supported is by a method called apportioned funds, a way of giving that proportionally allocates the church-wide budget to conferences and local churches. For United Methodists, this method of giving has become a powerful, generous tradition.
There is an historical conviction among United Methodists that connected congregations accomplish what no single church, district, or annual conference could ever do alone. In this way, each individual, each family, each congregation gives a fair share for the church’s work. United Methodists combine their prayers, presence, gifts, and service to make a significant difference in the lives of God’s people.
Each annual conference has the authority to decide its own formula for the apportionments to local churches within its boundary. Annual conferences can use different approaches in determining the formula; for example, some use membership or church financial health. The formulas are determined in legislative session where all churches are represented.