2022 Apportionments won’t increase thanks to $400,000 gift
By Lindsay Peyton - En Español
Relief is on its way for churches in the Texas Annual Conference. Usually, apportionments for the following year are calculated over the summer and statements are mailed to Conference churches on Sept. 1. This year, however, COVID-19 caused the Conference to take a second look at the amounts being requested. In this challenging time, a solution was found to help local churches continue to weather the storm. “This is good news,” Conference Treasurer Rev. Carol Bruse said.
No one expected the pandemic to rage on this long, she explained. Just when we all seemed to be rounding the bend, the Fourth Wave and Delta variant emerged. In-person meetings moved back to Zoom, and many large gatherings were cancelled.
That raised an alarm, Bruse continued. “After 18 months of pandemic, churches could receive apportionment increases for 2022,” she said. “We quickly became concerned.”
The overall Conference budget was recently reduced by $1 million, part of a continued reduction of 34 percent over the past five years.
Apportionments, however, are based on an expenditure formula. They are calculated by multiplying church expenditures from two years ago by a portion of the upcoming year’s budget.
Two years ago, some churches increased expenditures, before the pandemic, Bruse explained. “Many were growing at that time,” she said. “Because their expenditures increased then, they would have been given a bigger piece of the budget pie this year. That meant hundreds of churches were going to open their envelopes and find an increase.”
Many options considered
Several options were considered. Changing the apportionment formula wasn’t a viable option. That would require much study and input and an annual conference vote. “We only had a short window of time, and this was not an option,” Bruse said.
The Conference could have considered freezing rates at 2021 levels. “But that would still hurt some churches, since some are receiving decreased apportionments in 2022,” Bruse explained. “That would not be fair.”
Then, Bishop Scott J. Jones proposed an idea. “What if not a single church had an increase?” he asked.
He crunched the numbers. The churches slated to receive decreases in apportionments would still be granted the change. The churches that would have received increased apportionments, however, would stay at last year’s rates.
This would mean that the Conference would face a $400,000+ deficit. Still, Bruse is confident this one-time gift will relieve pressure on churches and be well worth the effort.
“Our churches have been very faithful throughout the pandemic,” Bruse said. “Many continue to give, and we’re counting on that.”
Staff are also committed to continue reducing expenditures, she explained. “We’re trying to absorb costs so our churches don’t have to,” she said. “We’re going to be as careful as we can.”
In addition, there are funds in operating reserves that can help cover shortfalls. “We are blessed that we have investments that have done very well,” Bruse said. “We’re grateful to have the funds to share with local churches. That’s where disciples are made, and that’s why we exist.”
In this difficult time, she added, not adding stress to churches is critical.
She pointed out that increased apportionments simply result from that two-year ago rise in net expenditures, not from churches who have disaffiliated from the Conference. She explained that because the budget was greatly decreased in the past two years, those decreases more than covered that loss of income.
In the future, however, the topic will be part of the discussion. “When a church disaffiliates, their portion of the budget is spread out to the churches that are left,” Bruse explained.
Another point to consider is that the General Conference has not been able to meet the past two years because of COVID-19. This means that General Church plans to trim the budget have not been realized.
Recommendations to lower General church apportionments should have reduced Texas Annual Conference apportionments by about $1 million a year. This has been delayed, Bruse explained.
“They have recommended a slimmer budget but have not been able to pass it yet,” she said. “Their hands are tied. Until General Conference meets, we have to continue paying our apportionment amount.”
In the future, a General budget reduction would help the Conference set a lower budget, which will in turn affect the total apportionment formula for local churches.
In the meantime, churches in the Texas Annual Conference will have relief from facing any increases for 2022.
“Apportionments allow us to support campus ministry, recruit, educate and nurture our pastors and offer specialists to meet the needs of our churches,” Bruse said.
When each church pays their apportionments, that allows the Conference to equip congregations to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. “Because of each church’s faithfulness, we’re able to work together to extend God’s love and grace to people in need,” Bruse added.
For more information about apportionments, visit this guide on our web site.