By Nate Berkneking
When I was serving as the pastor of a local church, I was highly committed to ensuring that we paid our apportionments. I always felt that being part of the greater connection was a privilege and responsibility. I wanted the whole congregation to be a part of that. At the same time, I had very little idea of how the check our treasurer sent was processed and accounted for by the Conference office. Actually, I had no idea.
The truth is, your apportionments make possible an incredible amount of ministry. Congregational Excellence, Pastoral Excellence, the Office of Mission Service & Justice, Annual Conference Sessions, our ordination processes and new church starts simply wouldn’t happen without the generosity exhibited by churches that pay 100% of their apportionments. I am deeply grateful for the 620 churches that did so in 2013. That’s the vast majority of the United Methodist Churches in Missouri.
But what happens to the checks once you send them? Actually, it’s a pretty standard process, but one we are always looking to improve. The process is the same for all incoming money, whether sent via Pay Pal for a registration fee, online for Imagine No Malaria or by check for an installment of apportionments.
All checks that come to the office are immediately grouped into batches, scanned and deposited with our primary bank. At this point, our Accounts Receivable Coordinator, Tiffany Beene, receives a report of all deposited checks. Tiffany recently joined our staff after working in the accounting department of Lincoln University. She uses the report and enters the deposits into our database and accounting software packages. This creates a record of the contribution in the name of your local church, and makes the production of statements possible. Our Assistant Treasurer, Joan DeBoe, then reviews the entries and “posts” them to a ledger of all transactions. During that posting, we ensure that the funds are “coded” to ensure they are utilized by the ministry for which they were sent. As Treasurer, I oversee the whole process and manage the staff. We use different people at each stage to ensure checks and balances and to prevent any misuse as required by our auditors.
Do we make mistakes? We certainly have in the past. They’ve all been caught and corrected appropriately, but we are working hard to be better. As we grow, I’m committed to two important changes. First, with much more efficient use of our software, we have erased the lag time between what you send by the end of a month and the amounts reported on your statement. In other words, the April apportionment statements will include all amounts paid through the end of March. Second, we are committed to more efficient and fewer errors in reporting. When you find one, please call Tiffany, Joan or me immediately. We want to know when we’ve made a mistake. We want to correct it as efficiently as we can. I’m committed to the very best service for our local churches. Without you, there would be no ministry.