|Living the Plan
Extravagant generosity is a sign of people who are dynamic disciples, individually focused outward, according to the "Fruitful Congregations Grid" within the Oklahoma Conference Strategic Plan.--Matthew 25:14-30 www.okumc.org/strategicplan
By Holly McCray
In 2009, your church’s support of the Oklahoma Conference Apportionment—a portion of your church’s budget—made possible:
- The launch of a new church in Moore.
- Christian witness to college students on about 20 Oklahoma campuses.
- Spiritual growth for children and youths attending events at the Conference’s three campsites.
- Discipleship development for thousands of Oklahomans at Local Church Leaders Workshops, Schools of Christian Mission, Evangelism training events, and the Summer School on Chemical Dependency.
- Health care for Oklahoma’s clergymen and women, including retirees.
- Assistance for nursing home residents in Oklahoma—and for approximately 150 retirement homes and care facilities nationally.
- Education for future ministers and church leaders, as close as Oklahoma City University and as far away as Africa University.
- A United Methodist mission presence in about 125 countries.
- The Contact newspaper and magazine.
Giving to the Apportionment in 2009 totaled $2,754,935.33, according to Conference Treasurer Brian Bakeman. Also given were $94,047.61 in Special Sunday offerings and $4,740.87 to the Youth Service Fund.
"Apportioned funds enable United Methodists to do together what no church, district, or annual conference could do alone. By combining several smaller gifts into a larger amount, we can effect change across the world. Individual churches can minister to a small area; however, as a connectional church, we can do big things, all in the name of Jesus Christ," declares to a statement on the denomination's Web site, www.umc.org.
Rev. Bakeman said, "The Apportionment is a defining characteristic of who we are."
Bakeman reported total revenue of $15,479,040 for Oklahoma Conference in 2009. The year’s budget was $16,628,898. Thus the churches’ contributions provided for 94.17 percent of that amount.
Bakeman wrote in a memo, "After the snow and church closings for Christmas Eve and the last Sunday of the year, I was fearful our numbers would be down dramatically."
In 2008, the percentage was 96.67.
"The people, our pastors, and our district superintendents worked hard to make this happen, and I am so appreciative of their efforts," he said.
Tom Harrison of Tulsa, chairman of the Council on Finance & Administration, agreed. At the January CF&A meeting he said, "The payout is commendable considering it’s been a bad economic year" across the nation.
"We had a great year when you look at all the circumstances," Bishop Robert Hayes Jr. said. He also reported that 2009 Apportionment giving totaled 93 percent for the Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference.
Conference reserve and investment funds grew by year’s end, Bakeman said. "The Conference remains in a healthy position financially."
Throughout the year, the Treasurer’s Office tracked revenue and shared reports. That enabled leaders to make timely financial adjustments, Bakeman said. For example, the Annual Conference Council reduced staff and continued restructuring efforts under the Strategic Plan. Other groups drew from reserve funds.
By making such adjustments, the Oklahoma Conference ended 2009 with a net surplus of $24,013. Bakeman said he was relieved.
Support for Special Sundays
Special giving for denominational programs—amounts not considered for the Apportionment—was highest in 2009 for "One Great Hour of Sharing," which supports UMCOR (the United Methodist Committee on Relief). Donations to that Special Sunday collection totaled $54,960.21. This year March 14 is designated for that offering.
Other special giving: Human Relations Sunday, $8,437.66; Peace With Justice Sunday, $4,118.50; Native American Ministries Sunday, $5,353.70; World Communion Sunday, $13,407.54; and United Methodist Student Day, $7,700.
Bartlesville District tops in giving
The treasurer also reported other statistics to CF&A.
- Apportionment giving averaged 97 percent during the previous four years.
- Oklahoma Conference’s 94.17 percentage was the second highest rate for 2009 among the 15 annual conferences that comprise the South Central Jurisdiction. Giving was 97 percent by the North Texas Conference, an increase from 2008.
- Of the total 2009 Apportionment, 47 percent is paid by the contributions from 30 churches. There are about 530 churches in the Oklahoma Conference.
- All but four of those 30 congregations contributed 100 percent of their Apportionment amounts.
- For the eighth consecutive year, Bartlesville District churches gave 100 percent to the Apportionment. Woodward and Clinton Districts each gave 99 percent.
- Among all churches, 87 did not contribute their full Apportionment amount. Compared to last year, that is an increase of 13 churches.
- A total of 21 churches did not fully fund the ministerial support items as required in the Book of Discipline. "This is direct support for the pastor and family—their health, their life insurance," noted Woodward District Superintendent Randy Scraper. "The church has to take ownership of these items."
CF&A will meet again in late March as its work progresses on a budget proposal for 2011. It will be presented to delegates at the 2010 Annual Conference, May 30-June 2 at Tulsa-Boston Avenue UMC.