Frequently Asked Questions
Apportionments and the United Methodist Church
Sunday, July 28, 2019
What is an apportionment?
The share each local church pays to support international (General Conference), regional (Western Jurisdiction), and local (Pacific Northwest Annual Conference/SeaTac District) UMC mission
How much does FUMCB pay in apportionments each year?
In 2019, FUMCB is budgeted to pay $58,203, which is 12% of our $477,500 church budget.
When do we pay apportionments?
We pay monthly installments of $4,850
What do they pay for?
They pay a proportional amount of the church-wide budget as presented below. This allows our connected congregations to accomplish what no single church, district or annual conference could do alone. Note that the majority of our apportionments stays in the Pacific Northwest.
General Conference (21%):
- World Service $ 6,282
- Ministerial Education $ 2,115
- Black College $ 847
- Africa University $ 196
- Episcopal $ 1,858
- Interdenominational Work $ 171
- General Administration $ 746
Pacific Northwest Conference (79%):
- Developing Leaders $13,334
- New & Renewing Congregations $17,932
- Compassion & Mercy $ 1,379
- Outreach $ 1,839
- Local Clergy Support $ 4,598
- Administration & Communication $ 3,219
- Required Over Apportionment $ 3,678
Short descriptions of these funds are attached.
What apportionment actions did the FUMCB Leadership Council take?
The Leadership Council sent a letter to the PNW Annual Conference Cabinet requesting: (1) their best estimate of the percent of our apportionments that fund UMC General Conference policies that discriminate against the LGBTQ+ community, (2) guidance regarding how best to manage the withholding of apportionments that support the discriminatory policies, and (3) the sharing of this information with all PNW Annual Conference churches. The Leadership Council prepared the letter because providing passive financial support for General Conference policies that discriminate against the LGBTQ+ community is incompatible with the 20+ year reconciling ministry of FUMCB and we want to stop this disingenuous practice. However, we and other reconciling churches in the area need guidance on how best to do this.
What about the good programs supported by our apportionments? Will our action negatively affect these ministries? Our request for information and guidance is intended to help us make an informed decision that stops support for discriminatory policies without negatively affecting good inclusive ministries. We understand that this is a complicated issue and that we don’t have all of the information needed to make a good decision, so we are seeking guidance of those that have better information.
Why are we taking the lead in this?
The leadership of the PNW Annual Conference has been slow in providing guidance and/or taking action on this issue. They have known about this issue for many years and a clear decision to keep the discriminatory policies was made by the General Conference in February 2019, yet the PNW conference leadership has provided no guidance other than “be patient”. We’ve been patient long enough and the hypocrisy of the situation is hurting our local ministry.
Why the October 15 date for action and what would that action be?
Leadership Council selected the October 15 deadline because it gives the conference staff nearly three months to perform the requested work and it gives FUMCB sufficient time (up to 2.5 months) to withhold some apportionments this calendar year.
The action to be taken by Leadership Council will be to assess the guidance provided by the conference and to decide how much, if any, of our monthly apportionment payments should be withheld until the discriminatory policy and actions cease or new information is provided that informs a different decision. It should be noted that we are currently paying our full monthly apportionments and we will have paid at least 75% of our annual apportionments for 2019 by the October 15 deadline. Therefore, the most we could withhold in 2019 is 25% ($14,550) of our 2019 apportionments. Depending upon the guidance received from the conference, the withheld funds would be kept in a local church account or a conference escrow fund. FUMCB would either pay the withheld apportionments later (after the discriminatory policy and actions cease) or redirect the money to other ministries. We would also inform the other PNW conference churches of our actions as a means of encouraging additional pressure on the General Conference.
What are other conferences and churches around the country doing to address this issue?
The actions of other UMC conferences and churches in the U.S. include:
- doing nothing,
- soul searching and investigating the issues,
- public displays of resistance (rainbow flags, ads, covering UMC on signs),
- signing statements or petitions affirming their beliefs or planned future actions,
- joining the Reconciling Ministries Network or the Wesleyan Covenant Association (supporters of the Traditional Plan),
- withholding all or part of their apportionments (General Conference apportionment remittances were down $4.9 million [3%]) for the first half of 2019), and
- disaffiliation from the UMC (12 churches in MS and one Annual Conference in CO).
There has also been a lot of discussion about ways of restructuring or dividing the UMC.
What are other churches in our area doing?
Other area churches are actively discussing the issues and evaluating options. Aldersgate UMC became a reconciling church. We don’t know what actions other area churches have or are planning to take, but we plan to gather that information over the next few months by reaching out to the leadership councils of other area churches.
How will we respond if the conference cabinet replies that we should not withhold apportionments?
Our response will be the result of discernment based on all of the information that we have gathered and an underlying belief that we must practice integrity in our reconciling ministry. In addition to obtaining guidance from the conference, we expect to gather information from other churches in our UMC district, the Reconciling Ministries Network, other reconciling churches and the local LGBTQ+ community.
Is this action the first step in the disaffiliation process?
This action is not related to the disaffiliation process. We can take this action and never pursue disaffiliation and we can pursue disaffiliation without ever taking this action.
What else is the Leadership Council working on regarding this issue and its implications, including disaffiliation?
Leadership Council has formed a work group to investigate and prepare a written summary of the facts related to the disaffiliation process. We understand that the process is complicated and has a deadline so we want to understand the steps, schedule requirements, key milestones, estimated effort (time and money) and the potential losses and/or gains that our church and neighbors may experience as a result of disaffiliation. We expect that it will take several months to gather and summarize the information, but we hope to have enough information to have a question and answer session with the church before the end of 2019.
Might we be punished for withholding apportionments?
Punishment for withholding apportionments for our stated purpose is unlikely in our conference. Many churches, including several in our own conference, don’t pay all of their apportionments and they are not punished. Given that we would be taking a well-considered ethical stand regarding a long-standing ministry, it is difficult to imagine retaliation from leadership from whom we’ve requested guidance.