By Jessica Connor
Despite a slight dip in September, apportionment giving is expected to be in the same range as last year — about 84 percent of the $17.9 million total S.C. Conference budget.
Conference Treasurer Tony Prestipino said churches have paid 57.46 percent ($10.3 million) of their apportionment payments to The United Methodist Church as of Oct. 23, an increase compared to the 56.64 percent received by that date last year. September numbers were a little lower: churches paid 52.1 percent as of Sept. 30, a drop compared to 52.8 percent paid on that date last year. But giving rebounded, and Prestipino said he is hoping it will stay consistent though the end of the year.
“The economy is doing better this year, so when we come down it’s a little concerning,” Prestipino said. “But hopefully September was just a blip in the timing of payments. We’re still projecting we will be in the same range as last year.”
Prestipino said the goal is not 100 percent, but rather to see steady improvement. UMCs typically pay at least 80 percent of the conference budget, and the more they pay, the more United Methodist agencies and organizations receive for their programming.
“Whether it’s 100 percent or 85 percent, my hope is always going to be going a bit farther than last year,” Prestipino said, noting that increased giving helps everything from clergy development to programs, such as Salkehatchie, Revolution and the Summit on the Black Church. “The conference is not on a shoestring, but when you stretch yourself and try to do a lot of different things and programs, your resources are definitely stretched.”
Bishop Jonathan Holston said he hopes the conference will not stop with being on track to repeat last year, but will challenge itself to reach further for the cause of Christ. If so, we will do more than any single individual, church, district, or annual conference could ever do by itself.
“Our apportionment giving is indeed an expression of our stewardship in making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world,” Holston said. “The generosity of laity and clergy in this effort is a demonstration of our Christian love in action.”
To date, Columbia District is leading the 12 districts in giving. As of Sept. 30, the Columbia District had paid 63.7 percent of its apportionments, followed by the Marion District at 55.4 percent and the Greenville District at 54.5 percent. The Florence District was last at 39.4 percent, just behind the Spartanburg District at 39.7 percent.
“As United Methodists we believe in sharing our human resources and financial resources. Our motto in connectionalism can be summed up as ‘Together We Can Do More!’” said Dr. Tim McClendon, Columbia District superintendent. “Our finances are shared in connectional giving in order to create a bigger impact on the world. Apportionments represent missions that we simply cannot do by ourselves. It is critical that every church does its fair share represented in apportionments. That is keeping covenant with each other and with God.”