Apportionment payments slip

Churches have until Jan. 14 to pay 2010 amount

By Jessica Connor

The bad news: apportionment payments to the S.C. Conference have slipped almost 2 percent between this time last year and now.

The good news: the conference treasurer still expects payments to come in at 83 percent of the total budget.

Churches have until the cutoff date of Jan. 14, 2011, to send in their 2010 apportionments.

As of Dec. 14, apportionment payments averaged 65.7 percent across the state–$11.5 million received of the $17.5 million total conference budget for 2010.

But Conference Treasurer Tony Prestipino said most of the payments come in between Christmas and early January, so even though the percentage received is far less than what is expected, it is quite typical for the S.C. Conference this time of year.

“Some churches pay throughout the year, but a lot of churches wait and see how they did financially for the year, and then send one big check,” he said.

For now, the mood is one of hopeful patience.

“We think that, even in the midst of everything taking place in the economy today, the church is going to be faithful and loyal and we are going to receive 83 percent,” said the Rev. Ed McDowell, chair of the Council on Finance and Administration.

McDowell said the estimation is “relatively approachable and very doable” given that the conference is just 2 percentage points below where it was last year at this time.

“We hope and pray that it happens,” McDowell said, asking people to put this on a prayer list. “If it doesn’t happen, then we’re going to find ourselves in a real tizzy. … But if we can get beyond this breach, we’re almost destined to have a bright and shining day somewhere down the road.”

Apportionments are paid to the conference by all churches in the state; the money pays for various items the conference has committed to support, such as missions, campus ministries, administration and more. If churches don’t pay apportionments adequately or on time, then these items suffer, Prestipino said.

“You can only do so much with your financial resources,” he said.

Prestipino said the conference is extremely thankful for what churches have paid so far, given the recession.

“I know there’s a huge shortfall with local churches, and times are tough,” he said. “What they see at the local church [in terms of donations] is mirrored at the Annual Conference.”

In an effort to continue strong financial stewardship for 2011 and beyond, Prestipino is sending a letter to all committee chairs urging them to reassess their expenses and letting them know some new changes: the conference now needs to sign off on any contracts that are more than one year in length, and the conference will not pay expenses for any items beyond what it has actually received to date.

“In general, there will be a lot more screening of expenses,” he said. “It’s not that we haven’t been thinking of it or that we’ve been spending unnecessarily, but there is more review now.”

After the 2010 books are complete, the committees will each sit down and re-evaluate what they did in 2010 and what they plan for 2011.

“It’s just part of the economics we’re living in now,” Prestipino said. “Nothing is guaranteed. You really have to think about where the funds will come from.”

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