From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Task force to recommend new apportionment formula, fewer funds

From NewsDesk <NewsDesk@UMCOM.UMC.ORG>
Date 22 Oct 1998 13:28:56

Oct. 22, 1998	Contact: Joretta Purdue(202)546-8722Washington

ATLANTA  (UMNS) - United Methodists may see a new apportionment formula,
fewer special funds and the elimination of "prior claims" for financing
churchwide ministry and administration if recommendations of a task
force are adopted.

The Connectional Ministry Funding Patterns Task Force is endorsing a new
system of  asking annual (regional) conferences for specific amounts of
money to finance denomination-wide work. After nearly two years of
study, the task force concluded that use of an apportionment system is
the most effective way to raise money, and it is in keeping with
Wesleyan tradition.

In May, the task force had decided to remove membership from the formula
used in the apportionment system. In its Oct 17-19 meeting, the task
force chose the formula it will present to the annual meeting of the
General Council on Finance and Administration (GCFA) Dec. 2-4. 

The proposal is based on the economic health of the congregations in a
conference. Income to the denomination from each conference would rise
and fall with the prosperity of that area. A percentage of  local church
income would be determined by General Conference for the following
quadrennium. The percentage would be the same for each of the four
years. Adjustments would be made in computing each conference's
apportionment. These adjustments would cause slight variations in the
percentage applied to the individual conferences.

The task force decided to invite the conference treasurers to attend a
portion of its February meeting for discussion of the proposal. 

Both GCFA and the task force may make changes in the report, and the
final document will be part of a larger report by GCFA to the 2000
General Conference, the church's highest legislative body, for action.
Drafting of the task force's report continued as the group made several
substantive decisions on other funding issues.

An afternoon was devoted to discussion with members of the Connectional
Process Team (CPT), the group charged with developing a vision and
structure for the denomination's future. The funding task force and the
CPT were established through different pieces of legislation at the 1996
General Conference, so they have no direct link with each other. The CPT
will report directly to General Conference, but the task force reports
to GCFA, which can accept or revise its recommendations.

Task force members decided to recommend making the practice of
connecting conference benevolences with the churchwide World Service
Fund optional to the conference. Currently, this practice is required.

After considering the six special Sunday offerings authorized by General
Conference, the task force decided to recommend continuation of  the two
best-known: One Great Hour of Sharing and World Wide Communion Sunday.
Both have a rich heritage as ecumenical emphases, reaping the benefits
of shared promotion. Offerings are administered within the denomination.

Task force members discussed the use of some offerings to raise
awareness, but they felt this could be better handled in other ways.
They will recommend to GCFA that the other four special Sundays - Human
Relations Day, Native American Awareness Sunday, Peace With Justice
Sunday and United Methodist Student Day -- be cared for in regular

GCFA member Cashar W. Evans Jr., representing a joint GCFA-General
Council on Ministries (GCOM) working group on special Sundays, talked
about that group's consideration of the number of special Sundays. The
group has not reached a conclusion on the number, he said.

The task force also agreed to recommend moving away from the concept of
prior claims - funds that cover essential churchwide promotional and
administrative costs and are paid at 100 percent. However, it would
still provide for the needs covered by prior claims through other
funding mechanisms, including reserves to meet emergencies.

Three agencies are affected. GCFA derives 100 percent of its budget and
GCOM receives half of its budget from prior claims. Sandra Kelley
Lackore, GCFA general secretary, and David Lundquist, GCOM general
secretary, spoke to the task force on this issue.

The Rev. Judy Weidman, general secretary of United Methodist
Communications (UMCom), and the Rev. Arvin Luchs, associate general
secretary, presented information about prior claims as they apply to the
promotional and interpretive items that UMCom produces for the funds of
the church. The task force decided that, for UMCom, the term was a
misnomer for pass-through costs to the agency and should be regarded as
negotiated fee for service.

Apart from the content of the task force report, members began to
consider how best to make their extensive research available to the
denomination and what to recommend for continued use.

United Methodist News Service
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