How does the Conference arrive at what is a fair share for each church – i.e. the formula for shared ministries and pensions?
Shared ministries is figured on a congregation’s apportionment base. To calculate a congregation’s apportionment base, the following formula is used:

Take a congregation’s total expenses:

Subtract:
• capital expenditures (which includes mortgage and interest payments);
• mission expenditures for United Methodist second mile giving;
• non United Methodist second mile giving (only if shared ministry is paid in full);
• other cash allowances (line #52 on the Year End GCFA Statistical Form);
• shared ministry payments and conference billables that are paid to the conference.

Add:
• conference billables assessed (but not paid).

Equals:
• a congregation’s base which is used to calculate apportionment.

All bases from individual churches are totaled. Each congregations base is then DIVIDED by that total number and MULTIPLIED by the Conference Shared Ministry Budget (which is approved each year at Annual Conference). The final number is the individual church’s shared ministry assessment.

Pensions are based on an amount and percentage of a pastor’s salary based on the action of General Conference 2012.

How is the conference tightening its belt especially when we read in the Relay and other places that we are building a new office, adding staff, etc.?
Conference leadership takes very seriously how much it is apportioning congregations. Congregations are the primary place of witness, ministry and mission for the church. The approved Conference apportionment budget will not increase between 2014 and 2015. Conference leadership plans to do everything it can to hold the budget to no or very minimal increases or even reduce the apportionment budget as we work together. We invite your prayers as we continue this effort.

The new Conference Center as stated above is intended to be cost neutral as is evidenced in that the 2015 budget was approved with no apportionment budget increase.

Why are we required to get property insurance through the Annual Conference?
The Annual Conference approved a Conference-wide property and liability program which requires participation from all of our congregations. If each individual church managed their own property insurance, each church’s premium would be approximately 20% higher. The mandatory program also allows us property replacement value protection of 150% of a church’s assessed value. This protection would not be available on an individual church by church basis.

Why is it that when our local church budget has been cut drastically, our shared ministries doesn’t go down as well?
Each year, the Annual Conference budget is set and adopted for the following year by the Annual Conference. The budget has included very modest increases and the 2015 budget has no shared ministry increase. Church budgets are set locally. Any changes in a local church budget that will affect shared ministries would not be realized for 2 years. For example: at the 2014 Annual Conference, the budget was set for 2015. If a local church budget was changed in 2014, that change will not be reflected in apportionments until 2016 because the 2015 budget has already been approved.

See question #3 for a description on the shared ministries formula.

Do we need to pay the Conference for everything we haven’t paid in past years?
There are presently policies in place that can forgive up to one third of a congregation’s past pension and insurances debt. There is some discussion by the cabinet to expand the forgiveness program. Recommendations will be made to CFA in the fall of 2014.

Are local churches paying for health insurance and pension of Conference staff?
The shared ministry pays for conference staff and retirees’ health and pension. The Annual Conference is the connection of all local congregations. The Conference’s primary source of income for mission and ministry is through the local churches.

Why are we spending money on a new Conference Center?
The 2009 Annual Conference voted to create a task force to study the viability and future of the current building on Wickapecko Drive because the facility was in need of repair and was not meeting the needs of the Conference. The Wickapecko Drive facility has structural, HVAC, retaining wall and mold issues. In addition, there is not enough space for staff. The task force found that it was not worth the investment dollars to address the present issues at the current site. They recommended a new Conference Center be built. The 2013 Annual Conference adopted the task force’s recommendation to build or purchase a new Conference Center.

Are apportionments used for the Conference Center?
Yes. Apportionments are used to help subsidize the Conference Board of Trustees who pay the current costs of the building on Wickapecko Drive including mortgage and maintenance. The task force found that the cost of repair and remediation of the current Wickapecko Drive building would increase apportionments, while the efficiencies created by building a new Conference Center would require no increase in the apportionment budget. There is no apportionment budget increase between the 2014 budget and the adopted 2015 budget. From a budget stand point, the Conference Center is cost neutral.