|Where the money goes:
When you give $1 to the regular offering at your church, this is how it is used. 90 cents remains with your local church. 8 cents supports ministry in the district, annual conference, and jurisdiction. 2 cents goes to the denomination’s apportioned funds.
—United Methodist News Service, Nov. 17, 2011
By Holly McCray
In 2011, Oklahoma Conference’s churches increased their support of the Apportionment funds by more than half-a-million dollars.
Treasurer Brian Bakeman reported total Apportionment giving reached $15,650,114, an uptick in funding for the third consecutive year. The 2010 total was $15,073,422.
"We’re going in the right direction; I think that’s really positive," said Rev. Bakeman.
For the overall benevolence budget, contributions totaled 94.65 percent. That’s up from 94.30 percent received in 2010.
Bakeman reported 414 congregations contributed 100 percent last year. Approximately 530 churches comprise the Oklahoma Conference.
In Ponca City, Asbury UMC gave 100 percent, an outstanding achievement when compared to its previous total: 41 percent. Pastor Ted Hoffman said a wall chart describing each apportioned item helped members "put a face to that Apportionment." Donation envelopes were nearby. The first check was mailed in July to Bakeman’s office.
"The Holy Spirit opened it up," Rev. Hoffman said. "Our Apportionments are like the church’s tithe to the world. It was very important that they all were paid."
As contributions neared that goal, "people got excited," he said. When the Treasurer’s Office confirmed receipt of the full amount, the pastor wrote "100 percent paid in full" across the chart, and the church celebrated. A new chart is on display this year.
Also last year, the Ponca City church agreed to change from clergy leadership by an Elder to a full-time Local Pastor. "They were so money-strapped; that saved money," Hoffman said.
The 2011 growth in Apportionment contributions was seen at all church levels, Bakeman said.
The 30 biggest churches—ranked by Apportionment funds assigned, not attendance—increased their giving from 98.55 to 99.32 percent. The percentage for all other churches rose from 90.73 to 90.88 percent.
"When we look at this by district, South Oklahoma City District had the biggest improvement, from 87.40 to 93.66 percent," Bakeman pointed out.
Five of the 12 districts recorded higher giving totals, compared to the previous year. The highest was 98.5 percent by Woodward District. All but one church there contributed 100 percent to the Apportionment, and that church fulfilled its required Ministerial Support amounts.
Financial support for two apportioned items exceeded their budget requests. Cookson Hills Center and Neighborhood Services Organization received 115 and 117 percent, respectively.
"That’s exciting to be able to celebrate with them," Bakeman remarked.
The treasurer sees the state’s economy improving, but slowly. "We’ve got to keep on making good decisions," he cautioned. "The two biggest challenges for local churches in 2012, I think, are going to be property/casualty insurance and the economy."
Total funds received in 2011 by the Treasurer’s Office was $16,784,354.67. This includes Apportionment support and special gifts. The number reflects a rise of about $365,000 over total giving in 2010.