By Jessica Brodie
With just weeks remaining for year-end apportionments giving, South Carolina United Methodist financial leaders have high expectations that this year could be the best yet.
“We’re doing really nicely,” said Conference Treasurer Beth Westbury. “As of today, we’re $363,000 ahead of where we were this time last year, and that’s really positive.”
As of Dec. 14, the conference had collected 75.7 percent ($13.21 million) of its total $17.44 million budget, up from 74.1 percent ($12.85 million) at this point last year.
“I am still very optimistic we can make 91 percent,” Westbury said, noting that doing so would be the conference’s best performance since 2002, when 90.90 percent was collected. Last year, 2014, the conference collected 89.5 percent, the second-highest amount paid since 2002.
To reach the 91 percent goal, Westbury said the conference would need to collect $2.7 million between the Advocate’s press time and the apportionments due date of Jan. 12 at 4 p.m. Considering that last year the conference was able to collect $3.6 million in the last six weeks of year-end giving, she feels confident that with a bit of effort, the $2.7 million is achievable.
The Rev. David Surrett, chair of the conference Council on Finance and Administration, said his team continues to be grateful to all congregations who give sacrificially and with significant commitment to our mutual ministry together.
“In unity, we can always accomplish more than as separate entities,” Surrett said. “The unique aspect of connectional giving is that we can extend our hands out in love and devotion around the globe and across South Carolina. Our conference has been the recipient of generosity from all over our country following the recent flooding in the Low Country, Pee Dee and Midlands. Through completing our apportionment giving for 2015, we can now answer in joyful response the concern that was sent our way.”
Budget funds support the conference’s programs and agencies, such as campus ministries, Salkehatchie Summer Service and more.
Beyond strong overall performance, Westbury said the conference has seen remarkable gains in several areas. As of Dec. 14, 432 churches had paid 100 percent of their apportionments, versus 413 on that date last year. This is of the 997 total churches required to pay apportionments; only brand-new and mission churches do not pay apportionments.
Also, she said the Greenville District has increased its giving by almost $109,000 compared to last year, and the Rock Hill District has had the biggest percentage-point jump (of dollars collected) since last year.
As of Dec. 14, the Walterboro District was leading in the percentage paid (at 87.7 percent), followed by the Columbia District (at 83.5 percent) and then Rock Hill (81.2 percent). In terms of dollars paid to date, Columbia District is leading at $2,272,283, followed by the Greenville District at $1,440,277 and the Marion District at $1,333,308.
Westbury said the conference is slightly behind in extra-mile giving, which is a special asking that help United Methodist colleges and retirement homes: $199,791 in 2015 versus $203,562 in 2014.
All 2015 apportionments are due to the treasurer’s office no later than 4 p.m. Jan. 12 to be credited toward 2015. Because of the short amount of time that office has to remit payments to the General Council on Finance and Administration, any payments received after that time will be credited to 2016. For those churches making payment electronically through VANCO, the payment must be initiated one day earlier: by 4 p.m. Jan. 11, 2016.
For month-by-month apportionments performance by your district, visit www.umcsc.org/home/administrative-services or call 803-786-9486.