By Jessica Brodie
It’s a sizeable goal, but doable—get every United Methodist church in South Carolina to pitch in a grand total of about $3 million.
And while it sounds like a lot, it’s only a little off what the conference normally sees this time of year. Conference Treasurer Beth Westbury said the conference usually brings in about $3 million in these last few weeks before the books close on the year.
But if we do it, if we all pitch in and give a little, we can reach 84 percent in apportionment payments for the year. Then, the financial hit won’t be so bad. Ministries will hurt, but not so bad they’ll close for good—at least, that’s what we hope.
See, that’s what happens when churches pay apportionments: ministries get the funds they need from the conference to operate. The Advocate is one of those ministries; about half of our budget comes from conference apportionments. Other ministries also depend on conference apportionment dollars to operate, from Methodist retirement homes to campus ministries to Asbury Hills. When churches pay what they’re supposed to, these ministries get funds from the conference to do what God has called them to do. Without those funds, they dip into savings—or have to do without.
Paying apportionments doesn’t just impact people on the other side of the world or big church administrative things like General Conference or the running of the jurisdictions. It impacts people right here in South Carolina.
It impacts this newspaper.
Now, 84 percent is not as good as our financial leaders wanted when the year began. Last year, we achieved 90 percent. But this year brought COVID, the election, unemployment and a stock market crash. This year brought the shuttering of church buildings for weeks and even months. Some still are not open for in-person worship.
While we’ve had a great comeback since May, we are nowhere near where we’d like to be. But, as Westbury said, “Let’s not dwell on what we cannot do. Let’s do what we can.”
If every church pays something, that helps.
If every church stretches just a little, prays a bit harder, takes up that last-minute special collection—something, anything—we’ll see change. We’re all in this together.
If you lead a church, help urge your congregation to do the right thing. If you are a person of means, or saw some measure of financial blessing this year, consider making a special gift to your church and asking them to designate it for conference apportionments.
We can do this if we try.