Annual Conference votes to lower apportionments 6.3%
2019 budget set up in two ministry tiers
BY HOLLY MCCRAY
OKLAHOMA CITY — The amount apportioned to each church in 2019 will be 6.36 percent lower than the individual church’s 2018 apportioned amount.
On May 31 at Oklahoma’s Annual Conference, delegates approved that reduction and a $13.4 million budget for 2019, which also is 6.36 percent lower than Oklahoma’s current budget, $14.3 million.
Some 1,200 delegates and guests attended the meeting on May 29-31 at Oklahoma City University, with OKC-St. Luke’s hosting the worship service in which 27 clergy were ordained, commissioned, or recognized for associate membership. Bishop James Nunn presided.
The Council on Finance and Administration secured approval for a two-tiered funding system in 2019, freezing the Conference Decimal Plan, which calculates each congregation’s share of the budget, at 2018 levels.
“Apportionments” and “Connectional Opportunities” will be distributed to each church for financial support.
Apportionments: The Pre-Conference Workbook defines this category as “priorities that can only be carried out by the annual conference and that include General and Jurisdictional apportionments. ... It is requested that each Apportionment shall be included in full in each local church budget, reflecting a commitment to the worldwide mission of the Church.”
Bishop Nunn previously has described much in this category as “infrastructure,” ministries often less visible yet undergirding all Church operations.
Connectional Opportunities: In his “Episcopal Priorities” speech on May 29, the bishop said this category “seeks to acknowledge the value of (a) ministry, approve it as a worthy endeavor, and place the decision for support at the local level. The change appeals to your heart for ministry, instead of mandating the items as apportionments.”
The itemized budget is on pages 107-108 of the Pre-Conference Workbook. Find the material at www.okumc.org by searching for “pre-conference workbook.”
Dotson tops Teaching Day
May 30 was “Annual Conference Teaching Day,” with headliner Junius Dotson, the denomination’s general secretary of Discipleship Ministries, and afternoon workshops on 20-plus topics.
Bishop Nunn described Rev. Dotson as “one of the foremost recognized visionary leaders in church revitalization.”
“If there was ever a time for courageous conversations, it is this,” said Dotson, who launched the Church’s “See All the People” initiative in 2017. Each participant received two of his guidebooks, gifts from the Oklahoma United Methodist Foundation.
He said, “It’s not about waiting for people to come to us. It’s about building relationships. We can’t disciple people we’re not in relationship with.”
He also introduced a video highlighting eight churches in the Conference that received “One Matters” awards through Discipleship Ministries: Antlers, Ninnekah, Gracemont, Cheyenne Valley, Leonard, Jones, Westville, and Jet.
Bishop lists priorities
“Each priority is grounded in the strategic plan of the Conference and complements major points of emphasis within the denomination,” he said.
Vital statistics for 2017 also drew his attention.
He celebrated a net increase of 2,111 people in worship attendance, which for the first time counted those watching online.
“One of the challenges we face is to reach the vast online community. Let’s see all the people,” Nunn said.
Professions of faith declined for the third consecutive year. He suggested, “Don’t limit your audience for Confirmation to the people already inside your walls. Let’s see all the people.”
As for the number of people involved in missions, “we have increased our involvement nine-fold over the base year 2006,” the bishop said.
He plans to join other mission volunteers this summer for “OK, Let’s Finish This,” helping make home repairs after hundreds of Oklahoma houses were damaged in 2015 by flooding.
“I am thrilled to report that our unfinished projects have dropped to 20” in this disaster response campaign. “Friends, we stay until the work is finished. Let’s see all the people.”
Among the highlights
Also in the spotlight were the following.
- The Oklahoma United Methodist Foundation reported total assets of $312.7 million as of Dec. 31, 2017.
- Bishop Jorge Merino of the Methodist Church of Chile and Bishop Nunn, on behalf of the Conference, signed a mission alliance.
- Volunteers in Mission teams totaled 175 last year and 96 to date in 2018, with 2,257 team members.
- Delegates cast ballots on a proposal for a denomination-wide constitutional amendment on equality for women. On May 31, dozens of clergywomen and supporters wore “Nevertheless She Preached” T-shirts in the session.
- The resolution “Welcoming the Immigrant,” presented by the Board of Church and Society, was approved.
- As of June 6, donations had reached $24,800 for the Annual Conference Special Offering to purchase devotional books for first responders in the state.
- Conference Lay Leader Chuck Stewart announced regional leadership training events will be offered next winter.
Among individuals honored during the meeting are these:
- Delia Pierson and the late Bob Pierson, recipients of the Denman Award for Evangelism.
- Cindy Havlik, Frances Willard Award, presented by COSROW (Commission on the Status and Role of Women).
- Kent Fulton, Conference chancellor.
- Robert Henry and Martha Burger, retiring and incoming presidents of Oklahoma City University.
- Don Batson and Keith Howard, retiring and incoming presidents of the Circle of Care.
- Holly McCray, “They Worked for Us” award, presented by the Board of Laity.
The quest continues
In the final segment of his episcopal speech, which drew on the meeting’s “Quest” theme, the bishop discussed the 2019 General Conference of the Church.
He had been asked, “With all the unknowns in the denomination, should we just wait before starting anything else?”
Nunn said, “It is a valid question. My response is this: It will be at least another half century before the Church finds resolution to some of these issues. By the time these issues are resolved, others will emerge.
“Such is the nature of a quest. A quest is filled with trouble and danger. A quest holds both peril and promise. We have produced fruit for the Church and, more importantly, for God. The real ministry takes place in the lives of the people we touch. We cannot wait for resolution of Church issues to do good to people who need us around the world.”