By Jessica Brodie
United Methodist financial leaders are cheering this month after closing the conference’s best year in more than a decade—even after a devastating flood that racked up billions of dollars in damage statewide.
South Carolina United Methodist churches paid 91.1 percent of their apportionments for 2015, almost 2 percent higher than the 89.4 percent paid in 2014 and the first time the conference has achieved over the 90 percent mark since 2002.
That 91.1 percent translates to $15,893,719 million paid to the conference last year of the $17.44 million total budget and $392,809 more for ministry than the conference received from churches in 2014.
Conference Treasurer Beth Westbury celebrated the achievement in mid-January, calling it “an amazing time to be a part of the South Carolina Conference.”
“Our churches have demonstrated their commitment to the connectional ministries of our church in so many ways, including financial stewardship,” Westbury said. “Bishop Holston and the district superintendents provided the leadership to help the conference achieve this new height in giving. I believe we have the momentum to continue this positive direction in our ministry and to stretch for even greater achievements.”
The treasurer’s office said the good news does not stop there. Records show 792 churches paid 100 percent of their apportionments in 2015, which is an improvement over 2014’s count of 768.
Westbury lifted up the Rev. Thomas Pearson and his Walterboro District for achieving 100 percent and praised the Rev. George Howle and his Greenville District for the largest dollar increase over the prior year ($150,374) and largest percentage increase over the prior year (7.49 percent).
The biggest gain measured in percentage is in the area of congregational development, Westbury noted, which went from 86.80 percent in 2014 to 90.40 percent in 2015.
“This is just one example of neighbors helping neighbors, since this money is invested in growing new churches and missional churches, as well as revitalizing existing churches,” Westbury said.
Sara White, director of congregational development, called God’s work in this area “stellar” and said she is extremely grateful to the churches that stepped up their giving and to the district committees on congregational development and conference board, which have worked hard to be partners and to spread the invitation to partnership.
“Outside of deep gratitude and a sure knowledge of God's expectations, I feel a joyous certainty that God is good and God's people are surely created in His image,” White said. “As the director of congregational development, I see time after time when local congregations reach out for partners in ministry—not someone to do it for them, but to share in the possibilities of the ministry. The line item support means the world to those congregations, established and new, who receive opportunity for new life because of their brothers and sisters across the Annual Conference.”
David Surrett, chair of the Conference Council on Finance and Administration, extends strong thanks to churches, individuals and anyone else who made the strong performance possible.
“The CF&A is most excited to receive the news that again the South Carolina conference congregations have given at new record numbers,” Surrett said. “We commend the leadership of our Annual Conference. Certainly God is guiding and encouraging all of us toward greater and greater generosity.”
The Rev. Kathy James, director of Connectional Ministries for the conference, said the increase in giving is most exciting because of what it means on a deeper level.
“The strength of The United Methodist Church is in our connection, because we are able to do more together than we could on our own,” James said. “Our connectional giving to our apportionments is the clearest example of that. It’s exciting to me when we’re doing well with that because it means United Methodists in South Carolina understand the opportunity we have to make a difference in the world.”
Westbury said she continues to be impressed with the response to not only the apportionment giving, but to all areas of giving.
“Our churches have responded with financial gifts for flood victims, Emanuel AME in Charleston, Imagine No Malaria, Stop Hunger Now and many other organizations and causes that we, as United Methodists, support,” Westbury said. “I am thankful to be a part of this state’s conference.”
The Advocate’s April edition will include a full listing of what each S.C. UMC paid to the conference.
For more detailed information on conference finances and administrative services, visit www.umcsc.org/home/administrative-services.
Apportionment Giving Through the Years
- 2015 91.1%
- 2014 89.45%
- 2013 89.72%
- 2012 87%
- 2011 84.2%
- 2010 83.2%
- 2009 84%
- 2008 86.1%
- 2007 86.8%
- 2006 86%
- 2005 78.7%
- 2004 78.9%
- 2003 87.8%
- 2002 90.90%
2015 Apportionment Payments by District
- Walterboro 100%
- Columbia 98.68%
- Orangeburg 95.54%
- Rock Hill 94.79%
- Greenville 91.61%
- Charleston 90.19%
- Anderson 89.53%
- Marion 89.06%
- Spartanburg 88.66%
- Greenwood 86.47%
- Florence 82.62%
- Hartsville 82.39%
– South Carolina Conference Treasurer’s Office