By Jessica Brodie
Apportionment giving is down in South Carolina—but not nearly as down as it could be.
As of June 30, United Methodist churches in South Carolina have given $5.1 million, or 29.2 percent, of the conference’s $17.6 million budget. Giving is down compared to this time last year, when churches had given $6.5 million, or 36.7 percent.
It is a difference of $1.4 million, or 7.5 percent.
“It’s not quite as good as I’d like it to be but not as bad as it could be,” said Council on Finance and Administration Chair the Rev. Mitch Houston, expressing deep optimism about the people of this annual conference and the way they always pull through despite hardship.
Job losses and general economic concern brought on by the coronavirus pandemic is thought to be a large part of the reason for the decline. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, South Carolina currently has an 8.7 percent unemployment rate as of July 17, though that is considerably better than the rest of the nation, which averages 11.1 percent.
Houston said he and the rest of the team on CF&A are thankful for all the conference is receiving despite the pandemic.
“Yes, we’re down right now, and I understand why,” Houston said. “But I have confidence the people of Methodism will do what they have done in the past and will be faithful in giving to the church and missions of the conference.”
Apportionments support a variety of missions and ministries of the South Carolina Conference of The United Methodist Church, from congregational development and pastor salaries to campus ministries, retirement homes, camps and youth programming.
According to an article in the May Advocate, many churches across the conference report doing well financially, with some noticing an increase in their tithes and offerings during the pandemic, though others say they are struggling.
In a recent article by Heather Hahn for the United Methodist News Service, “Local Churches Show Resilience in Crisis,” a United Methodist Communications survey of 1,016 U.S. churches revealed about 62 percent reported about the same or higher giving. The survey, intended to guide agency work, was conducted June 10-14.
Houston said the churches and pastors are “in my prayers these difficult days.” He said he deeply appreciates their generosity and commitment.