March 03, 2017

The churches of the Missouri Annual Conference again paid Conference apportionments at near-record levels. Conference leadership and Bishop Bob Farr are especially grateful to the churches that paid 100% or more. The Conference received just over $12,100,000, placing 2016 among the best years of the Missouri Annual Conference’s history. The percentage paid reached 87.31 percent, just shy of the 88 percent record set last year and slightly ahead of the record set the year before that. 
    
Expecting a third consecutive year of record-setting pay out was probably unreasonable, though churches actually outpaced the 2015 amounts and rate for 10 out of 11 months, and the final percentage paid ranked second all time. Rev. Nate Berneking, Director of Finance and Administration said, “All Conference leaders are well aware of how hard our congregations work to meet obligations. They consistently contribute to the budget of the greater annual conference and general United Methodist Church shows how generous they really are. I’m so proud to be a member of the Missouri Annual Conference and to serve as its Treasurer.” 
    
Annual Conference apportionments fund Conference ministries and resources for the local churches. The generous payment means we can continue congregational development through new church start grants, college age grants, youth programs like WOW, Annual Conference sessions, Pastoral Excellence programs and Board of Ordained ministry processes. 
    
The slightly lower payout does mean that more will need to be allocated for “stabilization” in the 2017 budget. Stabilization is the amount by which the Conference increases fixed costs and salaries to ensure we receive enough revenue to meet Conference obligations. “We never promise a decreased budget, but healthy percentage paid amounts mean that stabilization stays in check, making maintenance of the next year’s apportionments easier,” Berneking said.
    
The Conference Council on Finance and Administration is aware of many reasons for the recent strong payments. An improving economy, healthy stock market and decreased unemployment has helped Missouri churches. That said, CFA and Berneking want to make sure that every church working to pay apportionments feels appreciated.  
    
“I’ve served as a church council chair and as a senior pastor. I know how hard and stressful it can be. I can’t say thank you enough to those churches working to pay 100 percent. And I’m so grateful that so many pay even more. Pastors and leaders should never hesitate to call us in the accounting office if they need assistance in 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,” Berneking said.