The Connectional Table and the General Council on Finance and Administration will ask General Conference delegates to approve a $603 million budget for seven general church apportionments during the 2013-2016 quadrennium.
The $603 million figuore sounds like a whopping amount, but it is only 3 percent of the total expenditures of the denomination.
The proposed budget represents a 6.04 percent reduction from the previous four years and marks the first time a smaller budget will go before the church’s top legislative body for approval.
Slightly over a penny of every dollar given by local church members supports the ministries of all general agencies.
Only one half of one percent (0.05%) of that World Service penny is allocated to United Methodist Men. The commission raises 75 percent of its own budget, but relies on World Service dollars for the remaining 25 percent.
Factors that go into general church apportionment projections include: church membership, inflation, per-capita disposable income, “giving elasticity” (the percent of giving from increased revenue), net spending and the U.S. gross domestic product. The recent volatility in the U.S. stock market illustrates why the long-term prospect for giving is often difficult to anticipate.
General Conference, meeting meet April 24-May 4 in Tampa, Fla., may adjust the recommended budget.
Constitutional amendment proposed
Delegates will also be asked to begin the process of amending the Constitution to empower a unit of the denomination to make budget adjustments between conference sessions. At present, after General Conference adjourns, no entity can make changes to the allocated budgets.
To be ratified, constitutional amendments must win a two-thirds majority of General Conference delegates and two-thirds of the aggregate number of members voting during the following sessions of annual conferences.
If the constitutional amendment and the proposed new structure are approved, the Board of Directors of the United Methodist Center for Connectional Mission and Ministry may recommend to the General Council for Strategy and Oversight reallocating $60 million during the 2013-2016 quadrennium.
The newly established organizations could propose using the $60 million to develop young leaders, support theological education in central conferences, recruit and train people under age 35 for the ordained ministry, and increase the number of vital congregations.
Agency staff reductions
General agencies have been reducing the size of their staffs over the last decades. In 1971 there were 3,139 staff members in 11 general agencies. In 2010, there were only 1,384 staff members in 13 general agencies.
In 1997, the newly established General Commission on UM Men had 11 staff members. In 2012 there are seven full-time staffers and one part-time. This staff is supplemented by four volunteer deployed staff members, 29 men’s ministry specialist and 130 scouting ministry specialists.
If proposed reductions are passed by General Conference, there will be fewer agencies and fewer staff members. There will also be some 350 fewer board members to oversee the remaining staffers.
Study group recommendations
The General Council on Finance and Administration did not support two study group proposals to combine the seven general apportioned funds into one fund and to shift the apportionment formula from an expenditure-based model to an income-based model.
The council did support a study group’s recommendation to emphasize stewardship as a spiritual discipline.