A Moment for Mission
“Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and prosper us for the work of our hands—O prosper the work of our hands!” —Psalm 90:17, NRSV
The pandemic’s economic wreckage has left its mark on United Methodist ledgers.
However, giving to denomination-wide ministries is showing a slight rebound.
In August, General Council on Finance and Administration board members heard an update on general church finances in the wake of COVID-19. They also received guidance on calculating online attendance while many people continued worshipping at home.
July saw the highest apportionment collections of any month so far this year. U.S. conferences remitted about $9 million to general church ministries, up 4% from the same month last year.
“It’s the first time we’ve been ahead of the prior year all year long. That is encouraging,” said Rick King, GCFA’s chief financial officer. “So far in August, we’re seeing maybe not quite as much of an uptick as July, but much better than we were in April and May.”
Nevertheless, the U.S. collection rate is down overall compared with the same period in 2019—to the tune of about $10.3 million. Collections from central conferences in Africa, Europe and the Philippines also are down overall this year by about $53,000. The U.S. church provides 99% of the funding for general church ministries.
Financial support for the denomination’s general church ministries comes from conferences, which in turn ask for apportionments—recommended giving—from local churches.
When congregations support the General Administration Fund apportionment, they contribute to the important work of the General Council on Finance and Administration. Thank you!
Loving God, through our gifts, prosper the work of our hands. Remind us always to be generous through our prayers, presence, gifts, service and witness. In your name, we pray. Amen.
From Discipleship Ministries: Reformation Sunday — Lord of all we see and all that we cannot see: Give us this day a glimpse of the complexities of the world and the simplicity of living our lives centered in you; loving you with all our heart, soul, and mind, and loving our neighbors well. Bless the gifts we offer you; but in our giving, help us focus on these other more basic gifts. May the love we show you and others be a testimony of whom we follow and who is worthy of our devotion. In Christ’s holy name, we pray. Amen. (Matthew 22:34-46)
From United Methodist Men: Creator God, You know what You’ve provided me, where I live, who I know and what Your calling is for me on my journey of faith. Whatever it is that breaks Your heart and brings You pain today, please break my heart in the same way and connect me to that person, group of people who are in need. I pray for the strength and courage that only You can provide so that my life through this connection reflects grace, forgiveness and encouragement as an agent of healing change brought to life through the power of Your Holy Spirit. Amen. – Jim Boesch, Oviedo, Fla.
While the pandemic has strained ministries across the denomination, many churches have reported one bright spot—higher viewership of their online worship services than their usual in-person attendance.
The General Council on Finance and Administration, which collects the denomination’s membership and attendance data, has received requests for guidance on counting online worship.
“Numbers represent people and people matter,” Naomi Annandale, director of research and strategic evaluation for Discipleship Ministries, told GCFA. “Every person who watches on YouTube, participates on Zoom, messages on Facebook Live is a child of God. They matter, and it matters that your church has given them a way to worship in a challenging time.”
“It is our prayer,” the Rev. Moses Kumar, GCFA’s top executive, said, “that we remain hopeful for our financial future and our work together for the people and the ministry of The United Methodist Church.”
Through the General Administration Fund apportionment, United Methodists support GCFA’s vital work. Thank you!
—Adapted from “Board Gets Update on Giving, Online Worship,” Heather Hahn, UM News, August 31, 2020. Used by permission.