UMC Budget FAQ

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Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Q: 70% of the general agency revenues derives from the general Church apportioned funds.  Where is the 30% coming from? 

A: A few examples of revenue include:

  • Long term and short term investments. 
  • GCFA’s IT department works with annual conferences,
  • UMCOM rents studio time to local musicians,
  • A benefit trust was established that provides $10 million and year to health and benefits of agencies.

These are just some examples.

Q:  How can the Connectional Table be required to evaluate the performance of the agencies before setting their budget for 2020?

A: The Book of Discipline paragraphs relating to CT makes it clear that CT is amenable to the General Conference. Currently, CT’s responsibilities include those in Paragraph 906.3 and 4 – and requires that CT “review and evaluate missional effectiveness” of the program agencies.  During the current quadrennium (2013-2016), The Connectional Table has been working to set in place and implement long term evaluation tools.  The budget process for the 2021-2024 quadrennium will utilize these new tools in determining the allocation of the apportioned funds.

Q: Why did the judicial council deem the Central Conference appointment formula inappropriate in 2012?

A: The judicial council deemed it inappropriate by the wording that was proposed. The way it was worded would have given GCFA the power to negotiate.

Q:  Why was membership chosen as the factor in the Central Conference formula? 

A: The data that GCFA has on membership in central conferences is not the most accurate information. Currently we do not have proper membership information from the Central Conferences. It’s incomplete data. Therefore, we are basing the formula on professing members and then apply it to each area’s economic factor.

Q:  Why such a large increase for the Central Conference apportionment in Africa?

A: The Central Conference apportionment formula was not made in isolation. This has been an ongoing discussion from lay and clergy since 2009. GCFA will assist the Central Conferences in providing information on giving in the local church. You will be surprised when you hear the stories of how people can contribute.

Q:  How do we increase the amount of spending in a declining membership?

A:  Membership is declining but members’ income is increasing.  Our membership is growing in wealthy urban areas making the earning base of our membership grow.

Q:  How do we sustain ourselves in a declining membership?

A:  GCFA is investing reserves to help organizations become self-sufficient and sustainable. Some examples: GCFA is partnering with BMCR, MARCHA, and GCORR to have a 5-year plan for the organizations to become self-sufficient.

Q: How much does General Conference cost?

A:  General Conference 2016 will cost around $11million for the 2 weeks. This figure does not include the travel for staff attending. GCFA has raised about $600k towards the cost of General Conference in corporate sponsorship initiatives. This is a new way of thinking to support the denomination’s major legislative event.  We try to think of creative ways to raise funds for ministry. 

Q: What is the philosophy of having reserves?

A:  GCFA’s intention is to use the money intentionally on programs that serve the local church and annual conference stewardship.  Many agencies are using reserve funds for vital congregations and clergy development.

Q: The collection rate is almost 91.6% in 2015. During the 2013-2016 quadrennium, how much of the collection was from the US?

A: 99%

Q: We are celebrating 91.6% collection rate but didn't the overall apportionments go down?

A:  The collection actually went up by $600k.

Q:  Why are there not more funds going to the Central Conferences for young clergy?

A:  Bishop Streiff and the General Board of Global Ministries are discussing it but there is nothing in addition to what is already there.  

Q: What is the agency’s stand on homosexuality?

A: GCFA does not take a stand on the human sexuality issue. GCFA can only provide financial figures that delegates request at General Conference concerning certain scenarios. 

Q: What are the pieces of legislation on restructuring?

A: While there are several pieces of legislation related to restructuring the Church, GCFA does not take a stand on restructure proposals. We can only evaluate financial needs of these changes when they are proposed.

Q: What legislation is GCFA proposing?

A: At the beginning of the budget process GCFA reached out to a number of other UMC organizations inviting them to submit proposed legislation if they believed it appropriate for the GCFA Board to review it for possible sponsorship/support.  Additional petitions were drafted by GCFA.  In the end, the Board determined to sponsor 37 separate petitions at the 2016 General Conference.  These 37 petitions from GCFA fall within the following six categories: 

- GCFA Governance / and its Relationships with Other Organizations 
- Judicial Process Issues
- Issues relating to Bishops and/or the Episcopal Fund
- General Conference matters
- Issues relating to the general Church
- Local Churches and Annual Conferences

If anyone would like to review these petitions, they can be found on the GCFA website.

Q:  Why was the Econmic Advisory Committee’s recommendation of $621 not accepted?

A: The Budget Leadership Team thought the increase was too much for the local churches and annual conference to absorb given the declining membership in the US.

Q: Why does the Central Conference Apportionment Formula not contribute to all the funds?  

A: Two of the funds (Ministerial Education Fund & Black College Fund) are 100% U.S. Centric at this time.  Also, some of the Central Conferences have their own missional programs.  Therefore, it was determined, that to include World Service would not be necessary at this time.  This Central Conference apportionment formula being proposed is a starting point and will help us continue the conversation.  Any Central Conference that wishes to contribute to the other funds is always welcome to do so.  Nothing prohibits those contributions.

Q:  Why is there a fund for Africa University but not the other universities?

Many of our colleges and universities in the United States are supported in part by the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry.  In 1972, in response to growing membership in Africa, the General Conference commissioned the start of a university on the continent of Africa supported by United Methodists. 

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