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Advance Special Ministries: What are they and how are they funded?

By Jessica Connor

Throughout South Carolina exist 14 standalone ministries whose work is connected with the mission and vision of the S.C. Conference of The United Methodist Church.

These ministries vary in size, budget and overall mission, but each one provides some form of assistance or services to the least of these  among us. One helps former offenders and others to rebuild their lives; another helps women in crisis transition while living in a safe Christian environment; still another provides housing and crisis assistance for the rural poor. The list goes on.

South Carolina s 14 ASMs (see below) are certified every quadrennium to ensure they are connected to the mission of the UMC, and some United Methodist representation is required on each ASM s board of directors.

They also receive grant funds from the S.C. Conference Board of Global Ministries each year after completing a funding request. Grants vary in amount depending on need and are distributed based on a budgeted line item approved by the conference. The board distributes 80 percent of the total amount, because the conference usually pays 80 percent of apportionments, though if the conference pays above 80 percent, then the ASMs get the extra funds also.

For 2013, the ASMs received $165,000 from the conference, with 80 percent distributed among them. For 2014, the ASMs will get $155,000 from the conference, and the board will meet in the fall to decide how to distribute the grant money.

We try to be good stewards about what we give out,  said the Rev. Steve Gaither, a member of the conference Board of Global Ministries that oversees the ASMs. And the decision is not made in a vacuum. 

Gaither noted the board fully reviews the grant requests and decides who has the most need. Some ASMs have a tiny budget, so the conference support they receive means more than it might to others with much larger budgets.

But the ASM benefit is far more than conference funding, Gaither said:  It s the Connection we give them to our local churches. 

Some of the ASMs are adopted  by local UMCs, who provide volunteer labor and other hands-on help. Others raise money for a particular ASM on a special Sunday or through a unique ministry.

To learn more about the ASMs and what they provide, visit http://www.umcsc.org/home/ministries/outreach/advance-special-ministries/ .

Who are the ASMs?

Advance Special Ministries are 14 ministries located within South Carolina that provide assistance and services to the least of these  among us. They vary in size and budget, they vary in the ministries they provide, but each one is contributing in their own way to the overall ministry of the UMC in this state. They receive funding in various amounts based on grant requests to the S.C. Conference Board of Global Ministries.

The most recent ASM, PATH, was approved at Annual Conference. Current ASMs are as follows:

  • Alston Wilkes Society
  • Bethlehem Center (Spartanburg)
  • Bethlehem Community Center
  • Coastal Samaritan Counseling Center
  • Crisis Ministries
  • Interfaith Community Services
  • Killingsworth
  • PATH (People Attempting to Help)
  • Rural Mission
  • The Bennettsville-Cheraw Area Cooperative Ministry
  • Tracy Jackson Program of GIFT
  • United Ministries
  • Volunteers in Mission (UMVIM)
  • Wallace Family Life Center

How can my ministry become an ASM?

Advance Special Ministries are certified every quadrennium (2016 is the next), though sometimes the Conference Board of Global Ministries will decide to certify a ministry as an ASM in a non-quadrennial year, such as in the case of PATH, which was approved as an ASM at Annual Conference in June.

To become an ASM, a group must engage in a ministry with some connection to the mission of the UMC. Some United Methodist representation on each ASM s board of directors or trustees is required.

In addition to certification, each ASM must apply and give justification for funding requests each year. These applications are reviewed and recommended to the conference in the spring before Annual Conference to ensure they fall within the UMC s mission and vision statements.

How can churches get involved to help the ASMs?

While the 14 Advance Special Ministries are not solely reliant upon the S.C. Conference, their income is supplemented by the conference through an apportionment line item. Through connectional giving, all the churches in the conference can say they help support ASMs. So the first thing each church can do is pay 100 percent of their apportionments. The more the church pays, the more the ASMs get.

Also, being listed as an approved ASM also allows these ministries to raise funds in and be sponsored by every church within the conference.

If your church would like to sponsor an ASM, please go
visit them, and then recommend them to your church s mission team; they always need volunteers, as well as financial support.

And lastly, your church can help by remembering S.C. United Methodist ASM Sunday on the first Sunday of November every year.

A little extra for the ASMs

The conference s Advance Special Ministries received a special gift thanks to a vote on the floor at Annual Conference 2013. The Rev. John Culp made a motion during the Connectional Ministries report that the conference make an additional special gift from its Emerging Ministries Fund and give each of the 13 ASMs $5,000 apiece. The motion passed. These funds are in addition to the grant funds they receive from the Conference Board of Global Ministries; for 2014, a total of $155,000 will be distributed among the ASMs in the form of funding requests. Director of Connectional Ministries the Rev. Kathy James notes one issue: The motion specified 13 ASMs would get funding, but there are 14 ASMs; she said Culp named all the ASMs except Coastal Samaritan Counseling Center. James said Connectional Ministries will likely look at this issue at an executive committee meeting next month and report it to the full body at the next meeting.

To learn more about the ASMs and what they provide, visit http://www.umcsc.org/home/ministries/outreach/advance-special-ministries/ .

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