We are living in interesting times. However, all of the various times of my life seem to have been interesting and challenging just in different ways, but I have found that God has always been faithful. The last couple of years have been particularly challenging financially. We have found that the phrase "in God we trust" is more than just pious wording on our money.
As we look back at the close of 2010 for the North Georgia Annual Conference, there are some financial facts that are interesting, important, and more than a little inspiring. Let me share some of these facts with you.
The churches of our North Georgia Annual Conference contributed a higher percentage of our connectional mission and ministry apportionments than in the last three years. Our churches faithfully paid 88.75 percent of what was apportioned to them. This was a 2.6 percent increase over the previous year and amounted to $373,000 more for the work of Christ in our conference, nation, and world.
The large majority of our congregations (669) paid 100 percent of their apportionments. We even had congregations which joyfully gave more than 100 percent in testimony to God's goodness and in appreciation of our vibrant connectional ministry in the name of Christ, recognizing that we can do more together than we can do alone.
The 100 churches apportioned the largest amounts paid 94 percent of what they were asked to pay collectively. Almost all of those churches paid 100 percent or more of their fair share. These churches paid 66.3 percent of the total conference apportionments.
The large majority of our districts reflected increased payment percentages over 2009 and reflected increases in money given as well. These districts model increasingly faithful gratitude for us all.
In addition to apportionments toward the conference budget, our United Methodist family contributed to Special Offerings ($717,642), Conference Advance Specials ($585,503), and General Advance Specials ($1,319,776, including $1,021,000 to Haitian earthquake relief). This is exciting. Our United Methodist people are growing in discipleship and stewardship. We are among some good, grateful and generous folks, aren't we?
God's love is lavished upon us. God's grace is amazing. God's steadfast faithfulness never ends. Even in interesting and challenging times like ours, when disciples of Christ respond with grateful hearts and generous hands, God works through us in mighty ways to transform our world.
It is a joy to be part of the family of God praising, giving, and serving. Let us continue to grow in our discipleship, and let us lovingly invite others to join into the joy with us until the whole world knows Christ as Lord. Dear God, let it be!
Grace and peace,
North Georgia Episcopal Area
The United Methodist Church