By Jessica Brodie
United Methodist churches stepped up their giving in the final weeks of 2020, achieving an 87.16 percent collection rate in conference apportionments in what was for many a disastrous year.
“That is an amazing performance in the face of a pandemic,” said Conference Treasurer Beth Westbury.
Conference financial leaders scaled back their goal from 90 percent to 84 when they realized apportionments payments were much farther behind than normal given health and economic strains people experienced from COVID.
As of Dec. 15, the conference had brought in $12.5 million of its $17.6 million budget—roughly 71 percent, and 5.5 percentage points lower than the year prior. But in the final stretch, South Carolina’s UMCs came through.
The 87.16 percent they paid amounts to $15.3 of the $17.6 million total conference budget (in comparison, 2019 saw 90 percent, or $16 million of the $17.8 million budget).
Of the 12 districts in South Carolina, the Rock Hill District had the top collection rate at 97.5 percent. Orangeburg was second at 95.9 percent and Columbia was third with 93.7 percent.
Westbury applauded the Orangeburg District as the only district to show an increase over the prior year in its collection percentage.
Of the 964 total churches in the conference, 724 paid 100 percent or beyond; 39 churches paid nothing.
The strong year-end performance means South Carolina missions and ministries receive a reasonable level of monetary support from the conference in order to do their work for the Lord. These missions include everything from campus ministries and Methodist homes to camps and retreat ministries.
Bishop L. Jonathan Holston applauded the work of the churches in the year-end push and called their efforts “extraordinary.”
A full breakdown of church apportionment percentages and amounts will be listed in the Advocate this spring.