News and Views

General Conference budget impacts local churches

Posted by on

By Charlie Moore

Prior to General Conference, I was asked to go to Charlotte to observe all of the deliberations around the proposed 2025-2028 General Conference budget and provide some informal interpretation on the impact on our United Methodist  “Connection” over the next four years. As many of you know, I am a real “numbers guy,” so I readily agreed to what I thought would be very easy task. I was truly mistaken 

The proceedings were complex, but the numbers and all they represent are very important and they will play a significant role in our ministry together. So, I wanted to offer some preliminary thoughts. 

The bottom line is this:

  • General Conference approved a total Apportioned Budget of $373.4 million for the next Quadrennium (2025-2028).
  • This represents a 36% reduction from the last Quadrennial Budget approved in 2016.
  • This reduction results from the combined effect of the 30% church disaffiliations AND a reduction in the ‘base rate” that is applied to local church expenses to arrive at the General Apportionment dollars that are allocated to each Annual Conference on an annual basis.
  • This “base rate” is equivalent to what we call the “apportionment factor” that we utilize in our Baltimore-Washington Conference.

So, what does this really mean at the global level?

  • The General Conference Apportioned Budget consists of seven different funds. Two of these happen to be Africa University and The Ministerial Education Fund that supports our UM Theological Seminaries. I was particularly interested in the impact on these two funds since I currently serve on the Boards and Chair the Finance Committees of both Africa University and Wesley Theological Seminary.  
  • These cuts (in round numbers) will result in a 45% reduction in funding from the GC Apportionment Budget to each of these institutions. This works out to a significant reduction of $1.1 million a year to Africa University and $424,000 a year to Wesley Seminary.
  • For Africa University, this will immediately reduce its ability to provide much-needed scholarships to its 2,500 students from 28 different countries in Africa. It will also most likely defer several much-needed capital projects to accommodate its rapidly expanding curriculums, such as its new School of Law.
  • For Wesley Seminary, these cuts will most likely scale back its ability to provide sufficient scholarship levels for its flagship MDiv program.
  • Despite these apparent and immediate impacts, I am encouraged by the fact that both of these institutions have been working diligently over the past three to four years to position themselves to be resilient in response to these long-anticipated cuts. Alternative funding sources are being thoroughly vetted.  This will be a long arduous process, but God will prevail.

What does this mean to The Baltimore-Washington Conference?

  • The General and Jurisdictional Conference apportionments currently represent a significant portion of our annual BWC Apportioned Budget. For instance, in our 2024 budget, the GC/Jurisdictional apportionments total $2.9 million (23%) out of our total Apportionment Budget of $12.6 million.
  • As we look forward to our next quadrennium, last week’s approved GC Budget reduction of 45% should flow through to a reduction of $1.1 million per year in GC apportionments to the BW Conference.
  • So, it certainly follows that this reduction will generate significant potential for reducing the BWC Mission Share asks to our local churches. I must quickly add that, even though I am a member of the CFA, I cannot fully predict exactly how this will translate into the next four years of our Conference Mission Share Budgets. However, I can say that the proposed 2025 BWC Mission Share Budget, which is being presented at our Annual Conference in a few weeks, DOES reflect a sizeable reduction from the current year.

And – what about our local churches?

  • While space doesn’t allow me to comment on the potential impact of all of all of this on each of our local churches, I can comment briefly about the potential impact on my local church – Community UMC in Crofton.
  • If I flow through the impact of a 36% reduction in General Conference Apportionments down to my own local Church, there is a potential for Community UMC to RETAIN up to $4,000 per year for the purposes of fulfilling our own local and global mission initiatives.
  • This, my friends, is not insignificant. 

So, a balance has been struck.

  • Hopefully you can see from how I have represented the issues, that there was a real balance that was struck through the years of planning for our recently concluded General Conference.
  • Our delegates have prayerfully and carefully evaluated the realities of 30% of our churches disaffiliating with the needs for nurturing our incredible global connection of the UMC with the increasing financial pressures facing us “in the pews.”
  • All of this was not accomplished without considerable debate and compromise.

To all our delegates, I say – Well done our good and faithful servants. 

To all of you, I say – To God Be the Glory.  Amen!