GCFA presents budget to GC2016

Moses Kumar, General Secretary of the General Council on Finance and Adminsitration, speaks to the press following his presentation to the General Conference. UMR photo by Jay Voorhees

Moses Kumar, General Secretary of the General Council on Finance and Administration, speaks to the press following his presentation to the General Conference.

Portland, OR — In a positive message that sometimes seemed more like a motivational speech than a financial presentation, Moses Kumar, General Secretary of the General Council on Finance and Administration (GCFA) made the pitch for the General Conference of the United Methodist Church to approve a budget for the ministries of the general church totalling $599 million over the next four years.

Kumar drew on an African proverb to provide the theme for his presentation: “If you want to run fast, run alone. If you want to run far, run together.”  Today I want to focus on what we as United Methodists do together, Kumar said.

Kumar shared his excitement that 26 annual conferences had paid 100% of their apportionments in 2015. Likewise, the general collection rate for general church apportionment continued its trend of increase, with GCFA collecting just under 92% of the requested askings. “This is also a record high rate, and we want to thank YOU for your part in helping ministry happen,” Kumar said. “Faithfully working together, we are making it possible.”

The $599 million budget was developed after consultation with the Connectional Table, the organization of the church charged with coordinating ministry across the United Methodist boards and agencies. Kumar noted that the amount was $4 million less that what was asked for the 2012-2014 quadrennium, with the base percentage upon which apportionments are determined decreasing to 3.266%, the lowest rate in 16 years.

Kumar said in a press conference after the presentation that the decrease was an attempt acknowledge and reflect the reality in most local churches, where membership losses have led to decreased giving. Kumar stated that GCFA has an economic projection team which has a strong record of anticipating economic trends and given the findings of that team they believed it prudent to offer a reduced budget.

At the request of the 2012 General Conference in Tampa GCFA and the Standing Committee on Central Conference Matters has created and is proposing a new apportionment formula for the central conferences. Currently,  central conferences have no set formula for contributing to the finances of The United Methodist Church, although they have been voluntarily contributing $950,000 per year  to support the denomination’s bishops. Under the new proposal, the central conferences would be asked to pay $5.1 million over the quadrennium, which would be split between the Episcopal Fund and General Administration.

In his press conference, Kumar noted that the new formula, which is based partially on membership, would actually lead the European churches to pay less than they have been currently paying. However, the European churches have told GCFA that they intend to voluntarily give an additional $2 million toward those funds to help offset the increased expense for some other conferences.

Kumar talked repeatedly about the increased collaboration between GCFA and other agencies, GCFA and annual conferences, and GCFA and local churches coming out of the 2012 General Conference. One of the complaints present at that meeting (leading to the restructuring plan known as Plan UMC, which was ultimately ruled unconstitutional by the Judicial Council) was that boards and agencies tended to work in silos, and did not work well with one another. When asked if his presentation was an attempt to address a new restructuring plan, Plan UMC Revised, Kumar disputed the notion that UM boards and agencies were not collaborating in the past, suggesting instead that they had been quiet about their collaborative efforts. “Since Tampa we’ve become more vocal about the ways that we are working together,” Kumar said. “We collaborate because we believe that’s the best way to resource the local church,” Kumar said.

When asked if GCFA was making any contingencies for emergency decreases in revenues, including the possibility of annual conference and congregational attempts as designated giving, Kumar stated that GCFA had not discussed that possibility, but that he wasn’t especially worried because he believed that individuals and congregations would continue to give as they have out of their connection to projects and missions that catch their interest. Some conferences and congregations have suggested that they may withhold funds from United Methodist work that they disagree with or don’t support.

 

Kumar ended his presentation to the General Conference with a call to unity.

“When we work together, when we pray together, when we act in one accord together and trust that God has the answers, we can do great things,” Kumar said

“I see before me a United Methodist church that is ready to “therefore go…and make disciples…to transform the world…together!”

Jay Voorhees, Former Executive Editor

The Rev. Jay Voorhees is the Executive Editor of The United Methodist Reporter and the Chief Creative Officer for CircuitWriter Media LLC which operates this site and MethoBlog.com. Jay is an ordained elder in the Tennessee Annual Conference. Jay has written on life and the practice of faith in The United Methodist Church at Only Wonder Understands since 2003.

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