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
  • shared ministry payments and conference billables that are paid to the conference.

Add:

  • current 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 multiplied by the approved percentage (16.1% for 2019) 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.?
GNJ’s Council of Finance and Administration 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 has decreased in both 2018 and 2019 by $1.2 million. In a continuing commitment to keep resources in local churches, GNJ leadership plans to reduce the apportionment budget each year through 2022.  This plan is contingent on local churches fulfilling 100% of their shared ministry. We invite your prayers as we continue this effort.

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 125% 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 2019 budget showed a shared ministry decrease. 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 2018 Annual Conference, the budget was set for 2019. If a local church budget was changed in 2018, that change will not be reflected in apportionments until 2020 because the 2019 budget has already been approved.

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 1/3 of a congregation’s past pension and insurance debt. Recommendations will be made to CFA on a case by case basis.

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.