By Jessica Connor
S.C. United Methodist churches are in the homestretch when it comes to paying apportionments, and as of press time, the conference appears poised to come close to its 92 percent goal for 2013.
I m projecting 89.75 percent for 2013, but I m still hopeful we can 90 and even get to 92, said Conference Treasurer Tony Prestipino.
As of Dec. 17, churches had paid nearly 75 percent of the $17.6 million total S.C. Conference budget ”about 4 percent more than they had paid this time last year. Churches have until Jan. 10 to pay their 2013 apportionments. If churches pay 92 percent, that translates to $16.2 million for United Methodist programs and agencies across South Carolina, from campus ministries to clergy development to ministries such as Salkehatchie, youth Revolution and the Summit on the Black Church. If they pay 89.75 percent, that translates to about $15.8 million.
The 92 percent goal for 2013 is far more than the conference has seen in decades. Last year, S.C. UMCs paid 87.02 percent of apportionments for 2012 ”the best numbers since 2003 and almost 3 percent higher than the 84.2 percent they paid in 2011.
The Rev. David C. Surrett, president of the S.C. Conference Council on Finance &Administration, said the conference might come up a bit short on the 92 percent goal, but stretching is always important for any congregation and the conference. It shows that we are trying to meet higher and more vital goals for God s work. Bishop Holston s encouragement has been most helpful.
Across the state, many churches are indeed upping their level of support, citing a fervent belief in the connectional nature of the UMC.
Dennis Devorick, pastor of Centenary UMC, Conway, has gotten on board with a wide array of special projects to help the church pay its apportionments, including a very effective pumpkin patch, which sold more than 3,000 gourds to pay those funds. Devorick said last year the church paid 12 percent, this year they expect to pay 50 percent, and in 2014 they are committed to paying 100 percent.
We believe it is important to pay our fair share of the first-mile apportionments, Devorick said. If we do not do our part, ministry somewhere is suffering.
Using the United Methodist resource Let s Go Fishing, Devorick has been trying to teach his flock about the importance of apportionments within the greater connectional system. For the pumpkin patch sale, members of the church volunteered all month long to make the event a success.
Centenary is growing and giving, Devorick said.
Further south, North Charleston UMC in North Charleston hosts an annual tea room and silent auction to help pay its apportionments. Members work year-round to make the event profitable for the benefit of the global UMC; the next tea room is scheduled for Feb. 7-8 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Linda Vaughan, steering committee chair for the event, said the church goes all-out with the tea room because they now fully understand why paying apportionments is critical to the full church.
(Years ago), when we discovered we didn t meet our apportionments, we became very concerned, Vaughan explained. We soon found lots in church didn t understand what apportionments did, and we did some digging and learned apportionments pay for things like mission projects that a single church couldn t do alone, training of ministers, development of new programs, etc.
We re part of The United Methodist Church, and it is important to us to do the things we should do to be (connectional).
Likewise, in the Columbia District, churches are so committed to connectionalism that they are teaming up to pay extra so even struggling churches in the district can pay 100 percent. Last year, the district s churches discovered they were just two churches shy of paying 100 percent of apportionments. This year, Columbia District Superintendent Dr. Tim McClendon reports those two churches have already paid 100 percent on their own this year ”one of them for the first time in decades, all out of a shared sense of mission and gratitude for how others helped them last year, McClendon said.
We will make 100 percent again this year because the Columbia District is a witness to its motto, ˜Together We Can Do More! This is United Methodist connectionalism at work, McClendon said.
McClendon said he will reassess where the district stands as Jan. 1 nears, and encourage churches to pay everything by the end of the year so they can start off 2014 with a clean slate. He said many of the district s churches have embraced a monthly payment of their connectional giving fair share.
For up-to-date information on the current apportionment percentage, or for more information on conference finances, visit www.umcsc.org/home/offices-2/treasurer .