Apportionment payments ‘returning to normal’

By Jessica Brodie

Apportionment payments are returning to normal, conference financial leaders say, bringing them some relief after a year filled with uncertainties regarding the pandemic and its continued impact on churches and giving.

As of Oct. 20, the South Carolina Conference Treasurer’s Office has received approximately $11.1 million of the $17.3 million total budgeted for 2021, or about 64.34 percent. In comparison, last year at this time we had received $9.9 million of the $17.6 million budgeted for last year, or just 56.49 percent.

“We are doing much better than in 2020,” said Beth Westbury, treasurer and director of administrative services for the South Carolina Conference of The United Methodist Church. “ We all know last year was not a normal year. We are about where we were in 2018 and 2019 in terms of percent collected. So, it looks like we are returning to normal.”

Their office has received $1.2 million more this time than last year. Westbury also said special giving, including amounts given to Extra Mile, are up compared to last year. Special giving represents funds churches have elected to give to missions and ministries the conference supports. As of Oct. 20, churches have given about $206,000 toward the $625,000 budgeted for these “other askings,” compared to $165,000 given last year—almost a 7 percent increase.

“It is a wonderful feeling to show increases in our support to these organizations,” Westbury said.

While the overall goal of the conference’s Council on Finance and Administration is to increase the percentage of giving and ultimately achieve 100 percent giving, meaning all churches in the conference pay what they are asked to pay, Westbury is personally hoping the conference will achieve 90 percent.

“The total apportionments have been decreasing over the last few years to make it easier for churches that could not pay 100 percent in the past to have a better chance of paying 100 percent now,” she said. “Of course, we would like to see it higher, but we know some churches are still struggling with the return from COVID.”

As of Oct. 20, churches in the Walterboro District are leading the payments with a collection rate of 78.71 percent. Florence District churches are in second place with 71.57 percent, which Westbury said is a significant increase over the prior year, which was 53.40 percent.

Columbia District is in third place with 69.29 percent.

Friday, Jan. 14, 2022, is the last day to pay apportionments. Payments must be in the treasurer’s office by 4 p.m. that day. If the church is paying electronically through Vanco, the payment must be initiated by 3 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 12, to allow time for payments in process to clear and for staff to prepare for the 2022 year.

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