UMC Urges Greater Giving Through Advent Season

Although the United Methodist Church (UMC) met less than 60 percent of the 2004 annual income by the end of November, officials are not too concerned because a disproportionate amount of offerings normally flows in during the last weeks of the year.

According to Dec. 13 United Methodist News Service (UMNS) report, the UMC received only 59.5 percent of its offering goals by November 30. However, the amount is actually more – dollar to date – than that received last year. At the end of November, donations to the seven funds that make up the bulk of the general church budget increased 2.9 percent over last year, marking a gain of more than $2.2 million.

The UMNS noted that “because the conferences were being asked for more during 2004…additional giving was only a .3 percent greater portion of the asking or amount budgeted for churchwide mission and ministry.”

But looking at raw figures, much of the denomination’s largest fundraising entities did receive notable gains. World Service, the largest of the funds, got $1.2 million higher than last year – an increase of 2.9 percent according to figures released by the UMC’s General Council on Finance and Administration (GCFA). The World Service is the basic support group for the UMN’s general agencies.

Also at an increase was the Black College Fund and Episcopal Fund – they rose 3.3 percent and 3.2 percent respectively.

Giving to other funds also increased: Africa University, 1.9 percent; Ministerial Education, 2.8; General Administration, 2; and Interdenominational Cooperation, 1.9.

However, the denomination’s six churchwide special Sunday offerings were down 1.9 percent as a whole from 2003.

In lieu of the ups and the downs in giving, Sandra Lackore, the denomination treasurer and GCFA chief executive, said she hopes more can be offered throughout the time of advent.

"As important as year-end financials are for our denomination, more important is the spiritual health of our local churches," said Lackore. "During this time of Advent, when we have the opportunity to appreciate anew God's gift of his son and all that represents, my hope and prayer is that Methodists around our great denomination will respond through their giving."