By Nate Berneking
For the second year in a row, the congregations of Missouri set a record for paid apportionments. I hope all United Methodists in Missouri know how grateful Conference leadership is. Thank you!
We especially want to thank those that paid 100 percent or more. We received just over $12,195,000, marking the highest amount since 2007, about an increase of more than $35,000 over last year. The percentage of the total apportioned budget that was paid reached 87.75 percent, the highest in the history of the Missouri Annual Conference (post-merger of Missouri East and West). We know how hard our congregations work to meet their financial obligations and to generously contribute to the budget of the greater Annual Conference and general United Methodist Church.
With more revenue, we will be able to fund more Conference ministries, offering more resources local churches. The increase in 2016 will mean more for congregational development and new church start grants, college age grants, youth programs like WOW, Annual Conference sessions, Pastoral Excellence programs and Board of Ordained ministry processes. Just as importantly, the increase in the percentage paid will help reduce the 2016 budget. We can never promise another decrease in the budget, but with an increase in the percentage paid, we will have a lower “stabilization,” the amount by which we increase the “fixed costs” of the budget like salaries, utilities and mortgage debt. To ensure that we receive enough apportionments to cover our obligations, we “stabilize” those items by adding the percentage by which we did not receive 100 percent the previous year. For example, in 2015's budget, our stabilization factor was 14.15 percent because our percentage paid was 85.85 percent.
In 2016, the stabilization factor was 13 percent. This year, stabilization will be incorporated at an all-time low of 12.25 percent. That can mean several thousand dollars of savings. Again, while we can’t promise a decreased budget for 2016, we will at least be able to reduce the amount by which we increase to ensure that we meet fixed obligations.
While many of the reasons for this year’s increased generosity are likely beyond the control of the Conference, Districts or local churches, we do want to acknowledge the hard work put forth by everyone at all levels. Never hesitate to call us in the accounting office if you need assistance in the areas of generosity, finance or administration. We are here to serve the local churches as they work to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. We are always better when working together, and apportionments are just one of the ways that happens. Thank you again and may God bless everyone in the coming year.