Nashville, TN – The General Council on Finance and Administration (GCFA) reports that 15 annual conferences paid 100% of their apportioned funds in 2010. The conferences are Alaska, Baltimore-Washington, Dakotas, East Ohio, Greater New Jersey, Illinois Great Rivers, Iowa, New York, North Carolina, Northern Illinois, Oklahoma Indian Missionary, Peninsula-Delaware, Red Bird Missionary, West Michigan, and Wisconsin. In 2009, 14 conferences gave 100% to all seven apportioned funds.
In addition, these annual conferences gave 100% to the World Service Fund in 2010. They are Central Pennsylvania, Rio Grande, Texas, Upper New York, Washington and West Michigan.
Models of Improvement
Faithful members of The United Methodist Church found ways to contribute funds to ministry even through a tough year economically in 2010.
Several annual conferences experienced significant increases in apportioned giving. They include the Indiana Annual Conference, which increased 61.05% over 2009. Indiana paid 84% of their apportioned funds in 2010. The Upper New York Annual Conference, a unification of four conferences in the northeast, paid 94.55% of their apportioned funds. Other conferences across the connection that increased giving to apportioned funds by more than 10% are Dakotas, Memphis, Mississippi, Northern Illinois, Red Bird Missionary, Rocky Mountain, and Western North Carolina.
Total giving to all denominational funds – including apportionments, Special Sundays, and the Advance including the United Methodist Committee on Relief – was up $46.5 million (28%) from 2009. Giving to UMCOR accounted for the greatest share of that increase which was largely in response to the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti. Giving to the six Special Sundays was down 9.7% in 2010, with total donations of $5,178,605.
2009 Membership Data Released
The staff of GCFA completed auditing the year-end 2009 statistical data for local churches in the United States.
The statistics as reported by local churches and annual conferences indicate that professing membership in 2009 was down 1.22% over 2008, and average worship attendance was down 1.85%. In 2008, membership decreased 1.01% and attendance 1.83%. Although membership was down for the US church at large, five conferences reported increases in membership, and eight reported increases in worship attendance.
The conferences reporting membership growth in 2009 were Central Texas, North Georgia, Red Bird Missionary, Tennessee, and Virginia. The conferences reporting attendance increases were Alabama-West Florida, Detroit, North Carolina, Pacific Northwest, Red Bird Missionary, Rocky Mountain, Rio Grande, and Yellowstone.
“Some of the acceleration in declining membership could be a result of changes in the statistical forms,” Scott Brewer, Director of Connectional Services at GCFA said. “These changes allowed churches to more easily reconcile their statistical reports with their membership records and may have contributed to the greater decrease,” he said.
The GCFA Committee on Official Forms and Records made significant revisions to the statistical forms for the 2009-2012 quadrennium, adding a number of new questions on church activities. Congregations reported nearly 280,000 persons enrolled in covenant discipleship groups, over 1 million children participating in vacation bible schools, over 800,000 persons served by daycares or community education ministries, and over 15 million person impacted by community ministries for outreach, justice, or mercy.
“This data really tells an exciting and compelling story about the impact our churches are making in the world,” Brewer said. “While we have added these new data lines, we also reduced the total number of data items collected in the statistics by nearly a third. In the Church, as with many organizations, we struggle with how to make our administrative structures and processes truly support our mission. I hope this new data can help support that mission more effectively.”
Spending in the local church, adjusted for inflation, declined 1.28% from 2009 after a 3.63% drop in 2008. Brewer noted that the recession appeared to be having different impacts in different parts of the country. “Although churches did not cut spending at the same level in 2009, it’s still clear that the difficult economy had an impact on congregations,” he said. Reductions in total spending were reported in just over half of the annual conferences; the largest declines seen in capital expenditures on building, property, and equipment.
Additional information related to the statistics of the denomination will be reported in the Connectional Table’s State of the Church Report in March.
2012 Apportionment Data Released to Annual Conferences
Following the final tabulation of church statistics, the 2012 apportionments were distributed to the annual conferences. The 2012 figure of $153,850,086 is 6.9% lower than originally approved in the budget by the 2008 General Conference. “The apportionment formula we use adapts to changing economic conditions,” Brewer said. “We apportioned 2.68% less than the 2011 budget, and the amounts for 2012 are largely a continuation of that trend. By apportioning less than was originally budgeted, our hope is to reduce some of the financial pressure on conference and churches especially hard-hit by the economy.”