By Jessica Brodie
With roughly one month left to close the books on 2018, South Carolina United Methodist finance leaders say the conference is still on track to make the $17.5 million budgeted goal, though numbers are down slightly from last year.
As of Dec. 13, the South Carolina Conference of the UMC has received $13.6 million or 77 percent, in apportionment payments from churches across the conference. Last year at this time, the number was $13.8 million, or 78.7 percent. These monies pay everything the UMC is responsible for in South Carolina and throughout the global UMC connection, from clergy salaries, congregational development, campus ministries and United Methodist retirement homes in South Carolina to the global Africa University fund.
“I think we can achieve 92 percent as we have in 2017 and 2016,” said Beth Westbury, conference treasurer and director of administrative services. “My hope is for all churches to give something toward apportionments. We want everyone to participate in the conference mission and ministry at some level even if 100 percent is not feasible.”
Every chartered UMC is expected to pay not only its own operating budget but also a percentage toward funding ministries and administrative aspects of the United Methodist connection. The goal is that all churches pay 100 percent of their apportionment payments, though some have not yet done so.
As of Dec. 13, Westbury said 427 churches (of the 977 total) have paid 100 percent of their apportionments. Last year at this time, 463 had done so.
To date, 96 churches have paid nothing toward apportionments.
Westbury said in percentage, Walterboro District UMCs have a significant lead among the 12 districts across South Carolina with 90 percent of their apportionments collected. The Rock Hill District comes in second with 83 percent collected, and the Columbia District is third with 80 percent collected.
In dollars, Westbury said, the Charleston District is leading in dollars collected (and increase of $35,689 over last year). The Walterboro District is second and Spartanburg District is third.
Even though new church starts are not assessed apportionments until they are chartered, one new UMC, Two Rivers Church, has made its first apportionment payment, and the church plans to make another before the year is done.
“We wanted to go ahead and get a jump on giving back and participating in our connectional life, said the Rev. Wendy Hudson-Jacoby, pastor of Two Rivers in the Charleston District.
Hudson-Jacoby said from the beginning, Two Rivers Church has claimed its role in a connectional system and has felt especially blessed by apportionment giving, as its first year of funding was provided from the congregational development and equitable compensation line items.
“As we grow and develop, we want to honor those churches and individuals who gave so sacrificially so we can continue our United Methodist presence in the Clements Ferry area of Charleston, creating a new place for new people, younger people and more diverse people,” she said. “Our gift to the apportionment is a way for us to say thank you. It's a way for us to say we are committed to expanding the work of sharing the good news of God's growing reign and kingdom.
“And it’s our way of committing ourselves to the connectional nature of our church that makes us stronger together than we ever are apart.”
How to pay
Payments on 2018 apportionments must be in the UMCSC Treasurer’s Office by 4 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 15. The mailing address is UMCSC Conference Center, Attn: Treasurer, 4908 Colonial Drive, Columbia, SC 29203.
Churches making their payment through the Vanco electronic system must initiate the payment before 3 p.m. Friday, Jan. 11.
By Jessica Brodie