By Erik Alsgaard
Apportionment giving by the 628 churches of the Baltimore-Washington Conference remained strong in 2016, according to reports from the conference finance office.
In fact, we set a record.
In 2016, churches contributed 92.1 percent of apportionment askings, said Paul Eichelberger, conference treasurer, up four-tenths of one percent from 2015 levels.
“This is the culmination of a five-year effort to get to 92 percent,” he said. “Truly, this level was reached by the participation and commitment of every one of our churches. We see that this has been a combined effort and that combined strength of all of our churches enabled us to make this mark.”
Altogether, churches contributed $14,343,308 in 2016, Eichelberger said, an increase of $215,000 from 2015.
Apportionments are connectional giving that support ministries and mission beyond the local church. By pooling its money, the Baltimore-Washington Conference churches are able to do far more for making disciples of Jesus Christ than any one church could do alone.
“The conference budget is now 20 percent less than it was 12 years ago,” Eichelberger said. “I believe the local churches find the new level of apportionments more sustainable, and this has been a factor that increased our collection rate to an all-time high.”
The 2015 statistical reports – the most recent with complete data – show that in the BWC, there were 59,216 people in average worship across the conference, according to the Rev. Daryl Williams, conference statistician. Their combined giving to church operations (not including capital campaigns or any extra mile giving) was $127,223,088. This translates into $2,148 annually per worship attendee based on our conference average worship attendance, he said.
Twenty-nine churches that did not contribute 100 percent in apportionments in 2015 reached that mark in 2016, according to the data. Altogether, 525 churches hit the 100 percent mark, 10 percent of BWC congregations increased their giving from 2015 levels, and only 3 percent decreased their apportionment giving by 0 to 10 percent. However, 43 churches – 7 percent – decreased their giving by greater than 10 percent.
Broken down by district, giving looked like this across the BWC last year:
- Annapolis: 98.4 percent
- Baltimore Metro: 79.1 percent
- Baltimore Suburban: 97.4 percent
- Cumberland-Hagerstown: 97.6 percent
- Central Maryland: 93.3 percent
- Frederick: 94.3 percent
- Greater Washington: 92.0 percent
- Washington East: 92.1 percent
The Baltimore Metropolitan District once again led the districts in the percentage of churches that showed improvement over the prior year, at 21 percent, Eichelberger said. The Baltimore Suburban and Greater Washington Districts each reached a five-year high in apportionment giving, and the Frederick District was the most improved, with a 3.3 percent gain.
As a conference, in 2016, the BWC continued its streak of contributing 100 percent of its General Church apportionments. The streak dates back to 1998. Further, all 10 annual conferences in the Northeast Jurisdiction paid 100 percent of their General Church apportionments in 2016. (In 1998, only 10 conferences in the entire United States paid 100 percent of General Church apportionments; BWC was one of those 10.)
Altogether, a record 27 of the 56 U.S. United Methodist conferences paid 100 percent of requested apportionments in 2016, according to the denomination’s General Council on Finance and Administration.
United Methodists last year gave about $131.4 million to support the general church’s national and international ministries, nearly 92 percent of the requested apportionments. That’s the highest payout rate on record, according to United Methodist News Service.