By Erik Alsgaard
With the push of a button on Dec. 13, Sharon Shaw, the Accounts Payable manager for the Baltimore-Washington Conference, sent the conference’s final General Church apportionment payment for 2017. And with that same motion, a streak that began years ago reached a milestone: for 20 consecutive years, the BWC has paid 100 percent of its General Church apportionments.
Members of the Conference Council on Finance and Administration, meeting on Dec. 13, celebrated the news as the electronic payment of $291,501 was sent. The total payment for 2017 was $3,498,013, Shaw said.
“Having that record for 20 years is a considerable achievement,” said Phil Potter, chair of CFA and a member of The National UMC in Washington, D.C. “It represents well the relationship between our annual conference and the general church, and it speaks to the strength of our annual conference.”
Potter noted that by paying its general church apportionments, the BWC is setting an example for local churches to join in the connectional ministry aspect of The United Methodist Church. General church apportionments support seven separate funds that support, for example, seminaries, Africa University, and mission and ministry around the world.
According to Rob Matthews, Senior Data Research Analyst at the General Council on Finance and Administration, between 2003 and 2016, the BWC was apportioned $48,525,512 and paid 100 percent (“or a bit more,” he said) each of those 14 years, for a total of $48,529,875. Adding in the 2017 payment brings the total to $52,027,888.
Only three other annual conferences can claim a “100 percent” streak that approaches the BWC’s, according to Matthews. The Illinois-Great Rivers, Peninsula-Delaware, and Oklahoma Indian Conferences have also paid 100 percent in the years between 2003 and 2016, the years for which records were immediately available.
Being connected through apportionments, Potter said, is one of the strengths of the UMC.
“For one, we’re not hanging out there all by ourselves,” he said. “It’s knowing that you’re not totally independent and have to be completely self-sufficient … that there are other churches in the conference that are all pooling their resources to help those who need it the most.”
Potter was quick to recognize the leadership and dedicated disciples of the conference who made this 20-year streak happen. He’s aware, he said, that it didn’t happen by accident.
“You look at the bishops that have been part of the Baltimore-Washington Conference” over the past 20 years, he said. “And you look at the staff and the support of the annual conference and what we have achieved there. You look at CFA and the members of local churches who give of their time and volunteer to do this. It’s a commitment that comes through the whole structure. If it were just one committee pushing it, or one bishop pushing it, it wouldn’t have happened for 20 years.”
For more information on apportionment giving, including the 2018 BWC budget and a graphic on where our tithes and offerings go, visit http://www.bwcumc.org/administration/finance/apportionment-giving/ .